A City of Newport Beach employee saw a suspicious camouflage backpack this morning at City Hall, prompting an evacuation and road closure while bomb squad experts investigate.
According to the Newport Beach city website, the investigation is completed, and City Hall reopened about 1:30 p.m.
The incident began when the employee called police about 10 a.m. today, said Kathy Lowe, a Newport Beach Police Department spokeswoman. The backpack was discovered between Council Chambers and the city’s administration building.
The officer’s initial investigation prompted the city to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s bomb squad, as well as an evacuation of about 200 city employees, Lowe said. Nearby businesses along 32nd Street voluntarily evacuated the area as well, she said.
“Everybody filed out of the buildings very calmly,” Lowe said.
An alert message was issued by the Newport Beach Police Department by email and text about 12:30 p.m., warning motorists to avoid Newport Boulevard between West Coast Highway and 32nd Street “due to a temporary road closure,” and to use Balboa Boulevard as an alternate route for two hours.
“At approximately 11:30 a.m. the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad was called in to investigate and assess the backpack,” a police statement said. “They were able to determine that the backpack contained miscellaneous personal items and was deemed not hazardous.The backpack was booked for safekeeping at the Newport Beach Police Department pending identification of the owner.”