PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Investigators believe the “suspicious” backpack left on a MAX Friday afternoon was put there to purposely cause alarm by the man who called 911 to report it.
Police got a call about a suspicious package on the green line around noon Friday. It turned out to be a backpack with “items protruding from it” that made it look like an explosive device.
The investigation, which included the Metro Explosive Device Unit, closed down a large perimeter around the Hollywood Transit Station for hours.
Investigators believe 59-year-old Wilfredo Reyes left the backpack and then call 911 to report it. TriMet officials initially praised an “alert passenger” who saw something and said something.
He is being held at the Multnomah County Jail on charges of false report, disorderly conduct, interfering with public transportation and possession of a hoax device.
Roads around the Hollywood Transit Station were closed and nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution. The perimeter was finally lifted after the explosives investigators determined the backpack did not contain explosives and there was no threat to the public.
“Any time we respond to an incident and officers believe they might have an explosive device, we want to make sure our scene is large enough so that if a device were to explode, the community members would be far enough back that they would not be injured,” Sgt. Chris Burley said.
Officers evacuated the 24 Hour Fitness where a trainer told KOIN 6 News around 300 people were inside.
Mitch Wade said they were able to get everyone outside without many issues in just a few minutes. He said it’s concerning that this is not the first time there’s been trouble in the area.
“People don’t want to come here and work out, people don’t want to come here to work, people don’t want to go on the MAX, people don’t want to go in the Hollywood District at all,” Wade said.
TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt said all trains were stopped and swept to check for other suspicious devices and none were found. Trains have since returned to regular service.
TriMet has increased security since 2 men were stabbed to death on May 26, exactly 2 weeks ago. Altstadt said she wasn’t sure if there was a transit police officer on the train when the suspicious package was found.
“We are concerned,” Altstadt said. “This transit system belongs to this whole city, it belongs to our riders, it belongs to this community so want to make sure it’s safe. We hate to see a situation like this but we want to be cautious.”
Altstadt said TriMet encourages the idea of “If you see something, say something.”