‘Suspicious’ suitcase leads to evacuations


A scary situation prevailed outside the Islamic Center of Harrison last Thursday with the discovery of what was initially listed as a “suspicious package.”

But investigators quickly ruled out any possibility of danger.

Harrison PD said the episode began at around 8:15 p.m. when a resident called headquarters to say that about two hours ago, he had seen an unattended suitcase sitting next to a mailbox at Third and Jersey Sts., near the Islamic Center mosque.

The resident told police he did not know who had left the suitcase there, nor did have any idea what might be inside.

At the time, the resident continued, the entire mosque was filled to capacity with adults and children at a prayer service.

Police said they responded by cordoning off the area with yellow tape while quickly evacuating the worshippers from the mosque, along with residents from neighboring buildings, as a precaution.

Once that was done, officers set up a detail around the suitcase to keep away any foot traffic.

After being notified that a Jersey City PD K-9 unit was responding with “Smokey,” a bomb-sniffing dog, Harrison PD brought in additional officers to help close off all surrounding blocks to traffic. Harrison Fire Department and EMS personnel came to the scene as a safety measure.

After an inspection of the area surrounding and including the tan Polo brand suitcase, plus a search of the contents, the object was deemed to be non-threatening, police said.

The suitcase was then brought to Harrison PD headquarters where another search was conducted. Again, nothing potentially harmful was found, they said.

– Ron Leir 

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