San Diego

Christmas Paper-wrapped Package Prompts Evacuation of City Building, 1 Detained

One person was being questioned by police after dropping off what was at first considered a suspicious package that forced a city administration building to evacuate Monday morning. 

The man entered the city administration building on C Street near 3rd Avenue at about 8 a.m. and approached the guest services counter, where he placed a Christmas paper-wrapped package at the desk and walked out without saying a word, San Diego Police Department Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said. 

SDPD officers patrolling the building thought the interaction was strange and immediately began their emergency procedures -- the man was detained for questioning and the building was evacuated. 

"They just thought it odd that he came in dropped the package off and walked away without making any statement whatsoever to what it contained, what it was. It’s just unusual behavior that warrants us to be very, very cautious because it is a city administration building," Takeuchi said. 

A Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) was called to x-ray the package and determine its contents. Their tests concluded that the box contained miscellaneous items that were not considered a threat. Takeuchi did not provide any other details about the items. 

The man remained in police custody at about 9:30 a.m. Takeuchi said questioning would help police determine if there was any criminal intent when the package was dropped off. If police suspect criminal intent, the man would be placed under arrest. 

Police officers recognized the man but it was not clear if he had any previous criminal history, SDPD said.

Meanwhile, city employees were allowed to re-enter the building after more than an hour. Takeuchi did not have numbers on how many employees were affected but said police about a dozen floors were evacuated. 

Police blocked off the area surrounding the building, including the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) trolley tracks located along C Street. 

Trolley service was not halted but stops were not being made in the area outside the building. 

Last week, a Social Security Office located blocks away from City Hall was evacuated after an unattended bag prompted an investigation. In the end, the items turned out to be a bag filled with a man's belongings, including peanut butter and clothing, and a luggage suitcase.

Takeuchi said there does not appear to be a connection between the two incidents. 

No other information was available.

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