Police inspect ‘suspicious package’ near Capitol during tense Lame Duck

By: - December 4, 2018 8:16 pm

Outside the Binsfeld Office Building across from the Capitol, Dec. 4, 2018 | Michael Gerstein

Law enforcement cleared a threat from a “suspicious package” at the Michigan Capitol this afternoon after police allowed people to return to the Binsfeld Office Building adjacent to where the Legislature meets.

A Michigan State Police vehicle parked outside the Binsfield Office Building, Dec. 4, 2018 | Michael Gerstein

This happened during Michigan’s already-tense Lame Duck legislative session. Protestors, including many from Indivisible groups across Michigan, were at the Capitol to mobilize against several Republican bills, including those that would take power away from incoming Democratic statewide leaders and those that would largely gut paid sick leave and a minimum wage increase.

Police discovered a backpack in the post office adjacent to the Capitol building. Law enforcement have since taken down the security perimeter cordoning off the Binsfield building and allowed people to reenter by 2:30 p.m.

People could be seen filing out of the Capitol and Binsfield building and returning after police cleared the security perimeter following inspection by a bomb squad robot.

State Police and the Lansing Police Department offered conflicting information about whether people were evacuated. Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Bill Luebs told reporters huddled outside of the security perimeter that people were not evacuated from their offices.

“There were no evacuations. There was a shelter in place issued for the Binsfield (Senate office building),” Luebs said.

But LPD spokesman Robert Meritt said there were “evacuations of some buildings.” Meritt said the U.S. Postal Service building and Binsfield office made the decision to evacuate.

Meritt said in a statement later that the backpack was not determined to be a threat because it was just “personal items inside.”

The State Police Bomb Squad briefly assisted the Lansing Police Department, the lead investigating agency. Lansing Police were dispatched at 1 p.m. to the post office near the Capitol building after they heard of a “suspicious package” inside the postal drop.

A police dog showed signs that the package might be a threat, spurring people to leave the Binsfield Office Building and the western portion of the Capitol building until the threat was ruled out.

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.