Police: Pipe bomb a fake

Published 9:37 am Monday, February 22, 2016

Submitted The Berrien County Sheriff's Department released this picture of the suspicious item thought to be pipe bomb.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department released this picture of the suspicious item thought to be pipe bomb.

An item suspected of being a pipe bomb discovered in the parking lot of Rural King in Niles Township Friday morning turned out to be nothing more than a disturbing hoax, according to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.

Capt. Robert Boyce, of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, said a black PVC pipe capped at both ends did not contain inside it any explosive material.

“It was a fake bomb,” Boyce said via email Saturday.

The suspicious item was found on a Wright Tree Service trailer parked on the south side of the parking lot.

Wright Tree Service employees who were about to hook up the trailer discovered the pipe Friday morning and called police at approximately 7:55 a.m., according to Lt. Trent Babcock, of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.

The pipe was located on the trailer in front of a machine used to spray vegetation.

Babcock said the Berrien County Bomb Squad, which was already doing a training exercise elsewhere in the county, was dispatched to Rural King to remove the pipe. They arrived shortly before 9 a.m. and placed the pipe in a special bomb container without incident.

Boyce said the county’s bomb team then successfully dismantled the pipe and determined that it contained no explosive material.

“It is a crime and the investigation continues,” Boyce said.

Patrons at Rural King during the time of the incident were required to stay in the store and away from the parking lot while the bomb squad removed the pipe.

No arrests have been made, Boyce said.

Babcock said Wright Tree Service, of Iowa, has been using the Rural King parking lot to park its equipment while doing work in the area the past several months.

It is currently not known when the pipe was placed on the trailer, since the trailer had been sitting in the parking lot for an unknown period of time, likely several days.