The intersection near where police conducted a render-safe procedure to ensure contents of the backpack were safe. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
It is still being determined whether charges will be placed against the suspect of a Johnson City Police and bomb squad investigation on Lamont Street on Friday night, police said Monday.
Police said the bomb suspect called 911 around 9 p.m. to report that he was feeling suicidal and homicidal and had a backpack with a bomb inside.
“The suspect called it in,” said JCPD Capt. Brian Rice, who was with the bomb squad. “He was obviously suffering from some emotional problems.”
The backpack was found on the sidewalk in front of 420 Lamont Street, and Rice said the bomb squad used a device called a disrupter to determine the contents of the backpack.
“We used one of our remote opening tools to actually open the backpack up so we could get to the device and we could conduct diagnostics on it,” Rice said. “It means we don’t have to be on top of it when we open something up.
“We found what I consider to be some explosive components, but there wasn’t a complete device.”
However, there were items in the backpack that suggest the suspect was attempting to make a complete bomb, Rice said.
“Once we got the items out of the backpack we conducted diagnostics on it and followed through with the render-safe procedures to make sure that the device was safe and incapable of detonating,” Rice said.
Rice said an explosion or blast some witnesses in the area have been describing was part of the bomb squad’s render-safe procedure conducted with the disrupter.
“It wasn’t a blast,” Rice said. “It probably sounded like a gunshot or something like that. The device was not detonated.”
When asked to explain the render-safe procedure, Rice said, “I can’t. It’s part of our operating procedures on how we deal with devices and that’s something we really can’t discuss.”
The road was blocked off to traffic during the investigation Friday as part of the bomb squad’s protocol.
“We follow all bomb squad protocols for the bomb squad activations,” Rice said.
The residents around the sidewalk where the bomb was found were notified of the situation by police, Rice said.
“We went to the areas adjacent and right around the package,” Rice said. “It’s kind of a standard thing. We went door to door speaking with people. Most of the time, in these situations, we can’t force anyone to leave. We ask people if they want to evacuate or shelter in place.”
Rice said shelter in place means people can take shelter in the far side of their home away from windows and doors.
“If it had been a larger device, of course, that dictates how far we go as far as evacuation,” Rice said. “It was a relatively small device, though.”
More details about the bomb were not readily available as police confer about the possibility of charges being placed on the suspect.
“A lot of that stuff I really can’t comment on right now since we still have an ongoing investigation,” Rice said. “We are still trying to see where we are going to go with it to see if charges are going to be placed and what should happen from here.”
Because of medical problems associated with the suspect, Rice said they weren’t able to take him into custody that night.
“We’re still following up and looking at that as a possibility to see if charges are going to be placed in the future at some point,” Rice said.Related article: