ICPD explains what the ‘suspicious package’ was that caused City Hall to be evacuated

Iowa City City Hall — Zak Neumann/Little Village

A “suspicious package” left at the Iowa City Police Department shortly before 3 p.m. on Wednesday caused City Hall to be evacuated and nearby streets to be closed down. More than two-and-a-half hours later, things reopened after the police determined the package posed no threat.

The Iowa City Police Department did not explain on Wednesday what the package was, but on Thursday afternoon, the department said in a statement it was a padlocked backpack that had been left in the lobby of ICPD headquarters, located in City Hall.

“Upon further investigation, it was determined that the backpack contained a large amount of paperwork,” the statement said.

What made the backpack appear to be a possible threat was the behavior of the individual who left it behind.

According to ICPD, “an adult man approached the front desk at the Iowa City Police Department and placed a full backpack that had been padlocked shut in front of the police window. The man would not respond to the employee at the desk and left the building.”

The man was later located by the police, and he told them “he left the backpack at the police department’s front desk because he was upset about mail fraud.”

In addition to ICPD, units from the University of Iowa Police Department, the Iowa City Fire Department, the Iowa City Streets Department, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson County Ambulance Services and Johnson County Iowa Homeland Security & Emergency Management responded to the incident. Gilbert and Washington Streets were temporarily blocked off. Police dogs were deployed, sniffing cars in the area.

No criminal charges have been filed in response to the backpack incident, ICPD said. But the department did include a request in its statement.

“The ICPD requests that community members not leave items in the Police Department lobby or City Hall without first speaking with City staff.”

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