Bomb squads investigate 2 incidents in Berkeley; campus’ southern entrance briefly closed

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Bomb squads responded to two reports of suspicious packages in Berkeley on Monday afternoon, one of which prompted the brief closure of a southern entrance to the UC Berkeley campus.

The first package was reported at 11:55 a.m. in Downtown Berkeley, causing police to close off the street to pedestrian and vehicular traffic while a bomb squad was called, according to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Jennifer Coats. About three hours later, another suspicious package was reported at the corner of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue.

The bomb squad ultimately determined both packages were harmless.

In the first incident, Coats said police officers immediately arrived on scene and closed Shattuck Avenue between Channing Avenue and Bancroft. The bomb squad arrived about 2:15 p.m.

About 3:45 p.m., officials on scene determined the package on Shattuck was not a bomb, according to BPD Lt. Andrew Rateaver.

Pegasus Books and the USE Credit Union were both evacuated, but by 4 p.m. the street was reopened to all traffic.

Coats said the call was made by someone from a business on the 2300 block of Shattuck. The business had received a suspicious package and called the police.

“It was just odd,” said Rose Mendoza, an employee of Staples on Shattuck. “I think we all thought it was going to be something minor, and then the street was blocked off.”

Just before officials determined the package was not a threat, another bomb squad was called to investigate a black suitcase that had been left at the intersection of Bancroft and Telegraph. The squad arrived on scene about 3 p.m. and found the suitcase to be empty, according to the UC Berkeley public affairs website.

Telegraph was closed from Bancroft to Durant while the squad investigated the package. Bancroft was also closed between Bowditch and Dana streets, according to police on scene.

A UC WarnMe alert was sent out about 4 p.m. asking people to stay away from the area. About 25 minutes later, another alert was sent out informing students and others that the situation had been resolved and that the campus had resumed normal operations.

The Walgreens on Telegraph appeared to have been evacuated, although there were no reports of any campus buildings being closed as a result of the threat.

Staff writers Megan Messerly and Jose Hernandez contributed to this report.

Sara Grossman is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @saragrossman.