The Independence police bomb squad dismantled a device in a suspicious package that shut down a section of Noland Road for more than eight hours Tuesday.
Police spokesman Tom Gentry said the contents of that package, once they were dismantled, were sent to a crime lab to assist in the investigation. Gentry would not say what was found in the box, which sat next to a white pickup truck in the parking lot of the Super 8 motel at 4032 S. Lynn Court, just northwest of the intersection of Noland Road and Interstate 70.
Gentry said police were called at 6:18 a.m. Tuesday to the Super 8 about a suspicious package in the parking lot.
Nicole Nava, an off-duty employee of the Super 8, said she had been told by another employee that a threat had been called into the office of the motel early Tuesday, prompting the call to the police. Gentry would not confirm that a threat had been called in to the motel.
Gentry said Independence police, after arriving on the scene, called the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assist in the investigation of the box.
A robot sent to look more closely at the box – made of wood and about the size and shape of an old-fashioned ammunition box, Gentry said – heightened officials’ concerns. Gentry said Noland Road was closed between I-70 and 39th Street at approximately 9 a.m. and remained closed until just before 5:30 p.m. after the device had been dismantled.
“The way it was built was enough to cause a great concern,” Gentry said.
Gentry said a U.S. Army ordnance team from Fort Dodge, Iowa, had been called in but was sent back when the Independence police bomb squad decided to dismantle it itself.
At about 5 p.m., two men dressed in what appeared to be haz-mat suits took contents from the box and placed them in plastic bags.
Shortly after that, police re-opened Noland Road to traffic and allowed surrounding businesses to re-open.
The scare shut down the hotel and the surrounding businesses for a better part of the day. Sheridan’s Frozen Custard, right next to the motel, was shut down as was the QuikTrip and the Bank of America branch across Lynn Court from the motel. The Hardee’s and Denny’s restaurants on the east side of Noland Road were allowed to stay open but access was limited.
Cierra Bratsberg, a guest at the Super 8, said she left for a court date at 7 a.m. and when she returned at about 10 a.m., she wasn’t allowed to return to the hotel. She said her boyfriend, Joshua Preston, was kept in the hotel along with approximately 40 guests and were taken to a safe room in the basement of the building. Bratsberg waited at the Hardee’s restaurant until the device was removed.
Gentry said as of now there is no believed connection with the suspicious package that was found on a bus in Blue Summit on Aug. 16. That package turned out to be a hoax improvised explosive device.
Gentry said Independence police will continue to investigate this package and who was responsible for it with the help of the FBI and ATF.