Bainbridge Island received a bit of a scare on Sunday afternoon as a bomb squad investigated a suspicious package in downtown Winslow.
But one local woman knew the bomb squad would come up empty when it sent a robot to investigate a cardboard box left outside the Bainbridge Island Post Office with the message “Pray for Boston” marked on the side.
“I have to chuckle, it was such a set of circumstances that turned into an event,” said Terri Kaminski. “That’s life sometimes.”
Kaminski had received the package a few days before it prompted Sunday’s shutdown of downtown and sent local law enforcement officers into hyper-security overdrive.
Kaminski said she tossed the box into the garbage container outside the post office in Winslow on Thursday, but added that she doesn’t know how it ended up resting on top of a landscape planter in front of the post office three days later.
“That box was floating around between Thursday and Sunday somewhere,” Kaminski said.
On Sunday, however, a woman passing by the post office noticed the box and the words printed on the side, “Pray for Boston.” Her suspicions raised, she called police. Island police in turn called for a bomb-sniffing dog. But the bomb squad based in Bremerton took note of the words printed on the box and decided to send a bomb disposal unit, complete with robot.
The robot’s investigation found that the box was empty, just as Kaminski had left it.
Kaminski had spent Sunday in Bremerton at a fundraiser for Young Life, a Christian youth ministry. A young Boston man acquainted with Kaminski and her family was raising money for the victims of the recent Boston bombing. T-shirts with “Pray for Boston” printed on them were made for the charity and a box of the shirts was sent to Kaminski, and she handed out the shirts at the Young Life fundraiser.
The box, with “Pray for Boston” printed on it, contained T-shirts with the same slogan. The shirts arrived in Winslow on Thursday,
April 25, but the box was too big to fit into Kaminski’s car.
She took the shirts out of the box and tossed it into the nearby dumpster.
When she arrived home after Sunday’s fundraiser, she found message after message on Facebook about the box at the post office.
“The second story I read was that there was a box found at T&C and the bomb squad was there and I was like, ‘Oh no!’” Kaminski said.
She immediately called the police and spoke with Bainbridge Island Police Lieutenant Chris Jensen, who told her everything was OK.
“He said it was the best exercise in crisis training they could have done,” she said.
When police got the call that day, they initially requested a bomb-sniffing dog. But after considering the words written on the side of the box, a Bremerton-based bomb squad made a personal visit.
The area was cordoned off and the Town & Country parking lot was cleared.
The ordeal drew a crowd of concerned and curious islanders along the perimeter of the scene, however.
Islander Phil Dooley was out for an afternoon walk and saw the commotion.
“There was a car and some big truck that brought the robot, parked next to the entrance of the T&C,” he said.
Dooley stood on the sidelines watching the robot roll toward the suspicious box. He snapped a few photographs as the event unfolded.
“The robot picked up the box and put it on the ground and looked inside,” he said. “I guess they were happy because an officer came over and looked in himself and thought it was OK.”