Nova Scotia

Barrington Street reopened after suspicious package call

Halifax Regional Police blocked off a section of Barrington Street in downtown Halifax on Tuesday morning after someone reported discovering a suspicious package.

Brick, concrete found in brown briefcase next to Metro Transit bus shelter

Halifax Regional Police have closed off part of Barrington Street because of a suspicious package. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Halifax Regional Police blocked off a section of Barrington Street in downtown Halifax on Tuesday morning after someone reported discovering a suspicious package.

The area between Harvey and Tobin streets was blocked off after a 911 caller reported finding a suspicious package just before 11 a.m.

Halifax Regional Police Const. Pierre Bourdages said the 911 call came from a payphone at the nearby Via Rail station on Hollis Street. The caller did not identify himself.

Halifax Regional Police said a brown briefcase was found wedged beside a bus shelter. The briefcase was examined and the bomb squad determined there were bricks and a piece of concrete inside.

"We can't take any chances. Once these threats come down, we have to investigate it and once we find out there is a package we can't take a chance," said Bourdages.

"We have to protect our citizens, we have to protect the area and if it means there are disruptions in traffic and the area, we have to do it."

The Halifax Regional Police bomb squad has arrived at the scene of a suspicious package on Barrington Street. (Phonse Jessome/CBC)

As the bomb squad was examining the briefcase, investigators got word a Metro Transit employee who was working in the area earlier in the day had seen the package and moved it out of his way.

"Once we realized it had been moved our stress level goes down a little bit," said Sgt. Greg Mason, a member of the Explosives Disposal Unit of the Halifax Regional Police.

Mason said the squad would rather have people contact them than ignore packages that may be suspicious.

"We're just glad that the public are calling if they're seeing anything that's suspicious," he told CBC News.

"That's what we're here to do, that's what we train for and we have the equipment for it and we're just glad that they're calling if they see anything."

Officers had been asking residents in the area of Barrington and South streets to stay in their homes. Several buildings in the area of Hollis and Morris streets were evacuated as a precaution.

Bourdages told reporters that officers are now working to identify the 911 caller.

"Hopefully we'll be able to retrieve some video surveillance and try to identify this individual. If it was a legitimate 911 call from someone legitimately concerned about this package, fine. If it was done on purpose, it may result in a charge of mischief," he said.

"We've received three calls of a similar nature in the last month or so. If they are connected, the individual could face these charges for public mischief. You're talking about a lot of manpower, a lot of disruption."