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Police remove explosive device in East Tacoma

Tacoma Police and ATF agents organize themselves before heading into a house at E. 50th Street and McKinley Avenue East in Tacoma. It is believed that there may a bomb in the house.
Tacoma Police and ATF agents organize themselves before heading into a house at E. 50th Street and McKinley Avenue East in Tacoma. It is believed that there may a bomb in the house. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Tacoma police on Wednesday evacuated part of an East Tacoma neighborhood, including an elementary school, as they investigated an explosive device found there.

Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said about 6 p.m. that the device had been removed, streets reopened, and residents allowed to return home.

Investigators determined it was an explosive, she said, and shortly before 7:30 p.m. an explosion could be heard from Tacoma, which Cool confirmed was the result of the device being safely detonated.

Brian Bennett, local spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said crews detonated it at the Tacoma landfill, which is near Center Street and South Mullen Street.

A bomb squad and ATF agents responded about noon after the device was reported near McKinley Avenue East and East 50th Street.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Cool declined to give specifics about where the device was discovered, its size, what it looked like, or whether anyone was arrested. She expected to release more information Thursday.

Investigators closed McKinley Avenue from 46th to 56th streets, and residents were asked to stay inside unless officers moved them from their homes.

Because of the incident, Sheridan Elementary School, which is near the scene, was placed on modified lockdown — classes kept going, but exterior doors were locked.

Tacoma Public Schools officials decided to bus students to Boze Elementary School for parents and guardians to pick them up.

Other schools, including Blix, First Creek, Lister, Lyon, Lincoln and Stewart, were put on modified lockdown.

Parents of students who live near the scene were called to Lister, First Creek, Stewart and Lincoln to pick them up.

“We were particularly concerned about students who might live in the area where police (had) told people to stay inside,” school district spokesman Dan Voelpel said via text message. “We didn’t want them walking into that.”

The evacuation of Sheridan went well, and for many students it was the first time they had been on a school bus, he said.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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