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'Suspicious package' found at Nampa's Hispanic Cultural Center cleared of threat

Idaho Statesman logo Idaho Statesman 4/21/2022 Ian Max Stevenson, The Idaho Statesman

Apr. 20—A suspicious package found at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Nampa on Wednesday afternoon was identified as an empty, hard-cover suitcase and has been cleared of any threat, according to the Nampa Police Department.

The cultural center went on lockdown around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon after a construction worker located the package and reported it to police, Nampa police spokesperson Carmen Boeger told the Idaho Statesman.

Nampa police were on the scene Wednesday afternoon at the center's location, on Garrity Boulevard near Lakeview Water Park, Boeger said.

Police closed traffic on Garrity between 11th Avenue and 16th Avenue in connection with the incident, according to a tweet. Police also asked residents to avoid the area.

"It'll take a while to get us all cleared, but (the) suspicious package is confirmed no longer suspicious," Boeger said in a text, adding that it was an empty black hard-cover suitcase.

The Snake River Elementary School, which is about a block away from the center, was on hall check for a period during the afternoon, Boeger told the Statesman, meaning that people could not leave or enter the building.

By around 3:20 p.m., drop-off and pick-up at the school and at the Boys and Girls Club of Nampa, which is across the street from the Hispanic Cultural Center, was occurring at nontraditional locations.

Nampa's bomb unit was on the scene as a precaution, Boeger said, noting that police had examined the package.

In a tweet posted around 2:10 p.m., Estefania Mondragon, executive director of immigrant rights group PODER of Idaho, said the center was on lockdown "because a mysterious black box with wires sticking out was reported on the property."

In an interview with the Idaho Statesman, Mondragon said she and a few others were leaving the center for lunch at around 1:20 p.m. when a police officer approached and told them to go back inside due to the security threat.

Police told Mondragon to get away from the building's windows, she said, and that the suspicious box is around 50-100 feet from the building.

Until shortly before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, adults and children were on lockdown inside the center. A few minutes after 3 p.m., Mondragon said via text that she and three others had been able to leave the building through a back door. Two people remained inside the center, she said.

Police had surrounded the building's perimeter.

"I'm a little shook," Mondragon told the Statesman. "I'm just going to wait until the coast is clear."

This story was originally published April 20, 2022 2:48 PM.

(c)2022 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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