San Diego

Unattended Bag of Personal Belongings Causes Scare at San Diego Social Security Building

Local and federal law enforcement officials investigated the Social Security Office in downtown San Diego Thursday after two allegedly suspicious packages were discovered near the building. 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.

That bag and suitcase belonged to a man who identified himself only as “Todd." He told NBC 7 he had put his belongings down and walked away for only a few minutes just after 10:45 a.m.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Battalion Chief Mike Liversedge said officials received the call regarding the allegedly suspicious packages in front of the Social Security Administration (SSA) building at Front and Ash streets at 10:47 a.m.

Coincidentally, it was the exact same time of a planned fire drill and evacuation at the SSA building. As the drill was taking place, someone noticed the bag on the ground and called authorities.

San Diego officials asked the public to avoid the area of First Avenue near Ash and A streets due to police activity. A two-block area around the building was blocked off to traffic; surrounding areas were blocked by police officers and Homeland Security personnel.

The Social Security Administration building in downtown San Diego was evacuated due to a suspicious item. NBC 7's Audra Stafford reports.

As an NBC 7 news crew watched from outside the perimeter, Todd approached and was wondering where his belongings were.

Todd said the bag contained “just stuff,” including peanut butter, tortillas, clothes, and a dead cell phone.

"I kept coming back every 10-15 minutes," Todd said. "I don't have all day, just give me my bags, so where are they? They're gone."

Liversedge said there had been no “hard evacuations” of the buildings; people were outside because of the pre-planned drill.

The SDFD’s bomb squad conducted a diagnostic test on the bag and Liversedge confirmed it was found to contain “personal belongings” including the jar of peanut butter and a small satchel.

"Why would you stop the world like there's a bomb there?" Todd said. "That's ridiculous. They didn't give any indication that that was going on, by the way, to me.

Authorities determined there was no threat to the building and cleared the scene at 12:12 p.m.

Liversedge told NBC 7 that people can expect a similar response to Thursday's any time there is a report of a suspicious package.

No other information was available.

Contact Us