Suspicious device removed from outside downtown SLO business

newsroom@thetribunenews.comSeptember 11, 2013 

A suspicious device thought to be an explosive was removed from outside a downtown San Luis Obispo business Wednesday morning by the San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force.

The device, described as a metal water bottle about 16 ounces in size, had a 12-inch wire sticking out of it, said Christina Coyle, operations manager of Obispo Wealth Management, where the device was found.

One end of the wire was connected to the bottle’s metal cap, the other end of exposed wire was shoved into a cigarette, Coyle said. However, the cigarette burned out about a quarter of an inch before reaching the top of the bottle. “If it had burned down, it would have triggered it,” Coyle said.

The device, found by a gardener about 10 a.m., was left outside the side entrance of the office at 1301 Chorro St.

“I told the gardener not to touch it and called 911,” Coyle said.

Police evacuated the building for about two hours, cordoned off the surrounding streets to traffic and called the bomb squad.

The device was removed using “Andros,” the bomb task force’s robot, put in a secure containment vessel and hauled off to a secure location.

Coyle said that the business had not received any threats before the device was placed there.

“I believe it was just due to 9/11,” she said, referring to the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

“Regardless of the date, the act of leaving an implied or actual destructive device is a criminal act, and we take this threat seriously,” said Capt. Keith Storton, in a news release. “Our department will continue to investigate the matter fully to locate the suspect(s) that are responsible.”

The bomb task force is evaluating the device for possible evidence such fingerprints or DNA.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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