Tucson police evacuate federal building over truck

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 28, 2011 5:43 PM
Tucson police evacuate federal building over truck

TUCSON, Ariz (Reuters) - Authorities closed a three-block stretch of downtown Tucson and evacuated a nearby federal building on Wednesday after a suspicious vehicle was spotted by U.S. marshals, police said.

A bomb squad was on the scene where the vehicle, described as a white box truck, had been parked for an extended time near a building that houses federal bankruptcy court, Tucson police spokesman Matt Ronstadt said. About 30 people were evacuated from that building.

The building is also about a mile away from a federal courthouse where a hearing was being held on the mental competency of Tucson mass shooting suspect Jared Loughner.

"The day's events involving Mr. Loughner are likely playing into the scale of the response, Ronstadt said. "We are taking all the necessary precautions that we can."

Police were alerted to the vehicle at about 11 a.m. local time after two different bomb-sniffing dogs "showed interest" in the vehicle.

Occupants of other buildings in the area were asked to stay inside and away from windows as a precaution, Ronstadt said. A "person of interest" was being questioned by investigators, he said.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)