Bomb scare closes post office

The U.S. Post Office at Stewart and Little streets was evacuated and closed for two hours Monday as a bomb squad studied a computer left on the front steps.

The computer, a central-processing unit tower, was discovered Monday morning by a customer. It had no identifying markings and the factory seals had been tampered with, according to Russ Eumura, post office supervisor of customer services.

Shortly afterward, Lou Skaggs, officer in charge of the post office, evacuated approximately 65 employees. The post office was closed from 9:45 a.m. to shortly before noon.

"This will slow down mail delivery; a lot of our carriers did not get out," she said. "Our commitment is to deliver by 5 p.m., but we will be lucky to make it by 7 p.m."

The slowdown cost the post office overtime hours, she said.

Carson City Sheriff's Department and Nevada Highway Patrol officers closed streets for one block around the post office. Employees and curiosity seekers peeked over the fence as the Tahoe-Douglas Bomb Squad X-rayed, and later destroyed the computer with a high-pressure water blaster. The device is used to destroy potential bombs while avoiding an explosion.

The computer did not contain explosives, according to bomb squad personnel.

"Given the state of affairs in the United States, it's ignorant for somebody to do this in front of a federal building," said Carson Chief Sheriff's Deputy Scott Burau.

"This day and age we look at everybody and everything," he said of the precaution. "It's not 10 years ago - or even last Monday."

Mondays are traditionally the busiest day of the week at the post office, which serves as many as 60 customers an hour, Skaggs said. Customers, who arrived in droves during the operation, were directed down side streets and told the post office was closed.

Office employees waiting outside said the unit did not match computers used inside the building.

They said that over the years, there have been some scares, but nothing where the bomb squad was called.

Like most federal agencies, the U.S. Postal Service has been employing heightened security measures in the wake of last week's attacks.

Burau said the placement of the computer, which probably happened during the night, may have been a prank. Anybody with information about the computer is asked to call the sheriff's department detectives division at 775-887-2020, ext.1400.


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