Suspicious bag shuts down Michigan Avenue

  • Medill News Service
  • February 09, 2006 @ 2:48 PM
A passerby on Michigan Avenue Thursday saw something suspicious and set off a massive police response that shut down the busy strip from the Chicago River south to Randolph Street.

An unattended briefcase had been left on the sidewalk outside, of all places, That's Our Bag, 200 N. Michigan Ave.

The city's security personnel responded in force.

Dozens of police and fire officials rode bicycles, horses and motorized Segway scooters as they cordoned off Michigan. Lights flashed atop police cars, yellow caution tape blocked any passage and stern police officers yelled at gawkers as they tried to get close to the scene.

Bomb squad officers in full protective suits approached the briefcase and X-rayed it, according to Police Commander Jim Keating.

"There were no wires or anything of a suspicious nature," he said. "Nothing. Just an empty briefcase."

An employee at That's Our Bag said everyone inside the store evacuated through the back door after police and fire officials arrived.

The employee said the empty briefcase was likely left behind by a client who had just purchased a replacement bag.

Jack Coladarci, an attorney at Coladarci and Coladarci, 155 N. Michigan Ave., said he and his colleagues watched from their office windows as the events unfolded. When he emerged at street level, officers told him to move south on Michigan Avenue but did not require him to evacuate his staff.

Keating said this type of event is highly uncommon in Chicago. He said the level of citizen response to suspicious activity, though, does drive the department's need to respond.

"They run in cycles. It depends on what people see on the news," he said.