This is getting a little close to home. I am in West Chester often enough that this scares me a bit. - Chuck
Bomb found at West Chester garage was "designed to injure"
By Kathleen Brady Shea
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Authorities are working to determine who placed a "dangerous" bomb outside a well-used, downtown West Chester parking garage, prompting building evacuations and detouring traffic for hours Monday
Local police called in the Montgomery County Bomb Squad, which serves the 5-county area. Montgomery County Sheriff John P. Durante, who heads the unit, said officials determined about 1 p.m. that a suspicious package, which had been found earlier by the parking attendant, was a device "that can maim and cause death."
And John T. Hagenman, an spokesman for the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is involved in the investigation, said the bomb was "designed to injure...this was not a device used by someone who was playing around."
Experts successfully detonated the explosive, Durante said. He said the bomb squad would maintain a presence in the area for at least 24 hours as the investigation proceeds.
"Without getting into any specifics - and certainly we don't want to compromise any ongoing investigation - somebody obviously intended ill harm," said West Chester Police Chief Scott L. Bohn. "It certainly was a dangerous device."
Bohn said police were called to the Mosteller garage on Chestnut and Walnut streets at 7:25 a.m. Monday by the garage attendant, who noticed a "suspicious package" outside the west entrance.
Officers who searched the premises found two additional packages inside, prompting the closure of several nearby businesses, including the YMCA, which had to relocate its child day-care center, said Bohn. The additional packages proved to be nonexplosive, he said.
Bohn also said the door to the 24-hour garage's electrical panel, which is normally locked, was open. He said he did not know yet whether the open door was related to the explosive.
Sections of High, Chestnut and Walnut streets were closed most of the day and traffic was detoured around the site until 5:30 p.m. when everything but a stretch of Chestnut by the garage was reopened.
At the same time, as police and ATF agents were still collecting evidence, drivers who had left their vehicles in the garage before it was closed in the morning were allowed to retrieve them. The garage will be open for business as usual Tuesday morning, police said.
Bohn said authorities do not believe the incident resembled the work of the so-called "suburban bomber."
From March 2000 through November 2001, 20 bombs were found along the border of Chester and Montgomery Counties, mainly in the Phoenixville area. No one was hurt, but police have said many of the devices were dangerous and designed to kill. The identity of the bomber, and the motive, remain a mystery.
The site of the discovery is ultimately destined for demolition. Several years ago, the West Chester Borough Council, which owns the garage, voted to replace the 35-year-old structure, which has 414 parking spaces, with a modern, bigger facility, a process that is still in the planning stages.