UPDATED: Police questioning a man after explosion in Oakland

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UPDATED: Police questioning a man after explosion in Oakland

By Dale Shoemaker / News Editor

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Pitt police said they are questioning an unidentified man who they believed owned a suspicious suitcase the bomb squad detonated around 3 p.m. in Oakland.

The Pittsburgh bomb squad detonated a suitcase found chained to a guard rail outside of Hieber’s Pharmacy on the 3500 block of Fifth Avenue in Oakland around 3:15 p.m., according to Pitt police. The detonation was controlled and no one was injured.

Joe Bettinger, a pharmacist at Hieber’s Pharmacy said before police arrived around 1:30 p.m., a man and women entered the building beside Hieber’s — which shares a hallway with the pharmacy — and told him they had noticed the package and called the police.

When the Pitt police arrived, Bettinger said they told him to lock his door but stay in the building. Bettinger said he and the other employees stayed near the back of the store, and the pharmacy had to turn away a woman who needed a prescription for eye drops.

“I didn’t go out. I didn’t want to endanger myself,” Bettinger said.

At 3:33 p.m., the University sent an ENS alert stating that a “suspicious package investigation took place at 3500 block of Fifth Avenue” and “concluded without incident.”

The alert noted that normal traffic patterns will resume as soon as possible and asked students to avoid the area due to a “high level of congestion.” Police have cleared the scene and traffic has resumed on Fifth Avenue.

A black burned area remains on the sidewalk outside of the pharmacy where the bomb squad exploded the package.

Traffic on Fifth Avenue was stopped and backed up for several blocks for about an hour and a half. At 4:15 p.m. the University sent out a second ENS alert that said the scene was clear and that the flow of traffic was returning to normal.

Police are continuing to investigate. This story is ongoing and will be updated.

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