FBI agents in New Orleans say people here are doing a good job of reporting suspicious packages. Since the Boston Marathon bombing, people are phoning-in as many as four-times the number of reports, on both sides of the lake.
So far, none of the cases has been determined to be a real bomb or actual threat, but don’t call them false alarms.
“I wouldn’t call them false alarms because I don’t believe they are false alarms. They are suspicious packages,” said Charles Spencer, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s National Security Branch in New Orleans.
It’s Spencer’s job to take every case seriously. He says bombs could be disguised in backpacks, like in Boston, or even large trucks, like in Oklahoma City. But he doesn’t expect them to be obvious.
“I don’t expect someone to roll in a 500 pound World War II bomb with fins in front of a building and for it to go off,” he said Friday afternoon from the FBI’s lakefront offices.
Earlier in the week, police responded to a suspicious package outside the World War II Museum. Since the Boston attack, there have been similar investigations at the post office in Mandeville, the Marriott Hotel in Canal Street, and a parking garage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, just to name a few.
Spencer says people who intentionally leave behind a dummy device just to cause problems could face criminal prosecution that might include the payment of restitution in the tens of thousands of dollars.
He says if you accidentally leave behind a box, bag, or case, say something. The FBI knows people make mistakes and will not hold it against you.
“Hopefully, they’ll come up to us and claim it and say, “This is mine, I forgot it, I left it here.” That will immediately, if they want to claim it and go get it, that will most likely cease the response right there and we can leave.”