Portland police close streets, ‘disrupt’ suspicious device Thursday evening

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PORTLAND — Sections of Franklin and Middle streets were reopened about 6 p.m. Thursday after the Portland Police Department’s Hazardous Device Unit used a robot to “disrupt” a suspicious item brought to the police station by a local construction crew, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said in an email update Thursday night.

The incident that prompted the street closures and the evacuation of some buildings began shortly before 3 p.m.

“Earlier this afternoon a construction company working locally here in the city of Portland located a suspicious item with the general appearance of a hazardous device,” Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck told reporters during a brief late afternoon news conference at the site. “The decision was made by those workers to transport the item to the Portland Police Department to seek some assistance.”

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Sauschuck said at that time that he could not provide more details about the item or the individuals who brought the item to the police, citing an ongoing investigation.

He acknowledged that the workers brought the item to police in a white van, which could be seen behind him outside the police station on Middle Street. The chief said the department’s hazardous device team was called in to investigate the item.

The chief also said police conducted “low-level evacuations” in some of the buildings surrounding the police station, but said he did not believe anyone in the area was in danger.

Sauschuck said individuals who find objects they believe are suspicious in the future should leave them where they are and notify police, who will send trained personnel to the site.

As a precaution, police closed Franklin Street from Congress Street to Fore Street, as well as stretches of Middle and Pearl streets.

Bridget Chamberlain works about two blocks away from the scene at an office on India Street, and told the Bangor Daily News the commotion in the neighborhood began about 2:30 p.m.

“I noticed a lot of police driving down India Street,” she said.

Bangor Daily News writer Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.

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