ShareThis Page

Scare in Lower Burrell ends safely: no bomb

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:06 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
An Allegheny County Bomb Squad member wearing a protective suit approaches a suspicious television tube in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree store in Lower Burrell on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispacth
An Allegheny County Bomb Squad member, wearing a protective suit, makes a final determination that a suspicious television tube in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree store in Lower Burrell was not a bomb on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, a day after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Lower Burrell Police and firefighters keep their distance from a television tube that was suspected of being a bomb in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree on Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell on Wednesday, April, 17, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Lower Burrell Police officer Gregg Dale, who discovered a suspicious television tube in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree store, tells Allegheny County Bomb Squad members about his findings on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
An old television tube sits in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree in Lower Burrell. It had tape wrapped around one end, protruding wires and its serial markings scratched off, which caused police to suspect it could be a bomb.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Lower Burrell Police Detective Sgt. Scott Cardenas carries away a television tube that was determined not to be a bomb in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree store in Lower Burrell on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

A discarded TV picture tube left in a bag in the Dollar Tree parking lot in Burrell Plaza on Wednesday morning caused a nearly five-hour bomb scare in Lower Burrell.

The unwanted local drama happened on a day when federal officials said a deadly poison was mailed to the president and there were more scares in bomb-weary Boston.

The Lower Burrell scare was the third such incident of the morning for the Allegheny County Police bomb squad.

The incident ended just before 2 p.m. when an armored-clad bomb squad technician dramatically waived his arms back and forth like a baseball umpire waiving a runner “safe.”

“All clear. It's all clear,” said a relieved Lower Burrell police Chief Tim Weitzel.

The picture tube — old enough to weigh about 45 pounds but new enough to have a bar code strip on it — had at least one wire attached that struck police as being suspicious. But there were no explosives.

The incident started at about 9 a.m. when a Dollar Tree customer found the picture tube, police said.

The tube was in a parking space about 30 feet from the discount store off Leechburg Road.

At least one house nearest to it was evacuated.

Police were told the strangely out-of-place TV component apparently was left between 7:30 a.m. when one employee arrived and when the customer saw it.

The TV tube and wires looked suspicious enough for a police sergeant to take a cell-phone photo of it and send the image to bomb technicians to check.

Weitzel said police immediately cordoned off the area.

Lower Burrell and New Kensington firefighters, ambulance squads, constables rapidly arrived to help.

A fire engine was pulled across Leechburg Road to block traffic at Park Drive on one end, and traffic was diverted from the opposite direction at Wildlife Lodge Road.

About a block off Leechburg Road and down Alder Street, a nursery school was locked down as a precaution, police said.

Across the street from the Dollar Store, dozens of people gathered to watch.

“It's unusual,” said Sean Riddle, of Michigan Avenue, Lower Burrell.”I've seen people dump all sorts of garbage all the time, but this is unusual.”

“Yeah, it looks suspicious,” said Denny Gentile of Yale Street, Lower Burrell. “Today, everything looks suspicious. Nothing looks right.”

By noon, an Allegheny County Police bomb squad was requested. It took a little more than an hour for the bomb squad's special rig and two-man crew to arrive.

About 1:30 p.m., a heavily armored technician slowly walked up to the bag and took photos. Next, a portable X-ray was set up. A while later, the other officer in a helmet and flak vest took more photos.

Then, kneeling down, wire cutters in hand, he turned over the tube, examined it, and put it back face down. Then he waved the “all clear” signal.

“We'll take it away,” Weitzel said. “There's a recycling event coming up.”

Police continue to investigate who left the TV tube and why.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.