Authorities are investigating a suspicious package found Friday morning on the grounds of the Statehouse in Topeka.
Kansas Highway Patrol spokeswoman Andrea Nolte said in a press release that a man entered the Topeka Police Department to report that someone had left a barrel with a hazardous material label on it near the Capitol Building. He did not believe there were explosives in it.
Authorities indicate the person who left the barrel did so as a prank.
Capital City Police spokesman Patrick Saleh says his agency was notified about the situation around 7 a.m. Officers arrived to investigate and found the object sitting next to the Pioneer Women Memorial statue on the southwest side of the Statehouse. Officers could not see inside the barrel and took action to ensure public safety.
Streets around the building were immediately closed and the Topeka Police Department’s bomb squad was called in to assist on the scene. No buildings were evacuated.
Police deployed a bomb disposal robot to aid in the investigation. Just before 10:30 a.m., police were seen walking away from the statue and carrying a paint bucket-sized container. One officer gave a thumbs-up, indicating that the item did not pose a threat.
According to Saleh, the robot was not tall enough to see inside the item and used X-ray to determine if anything was inside. A bomb technician with the Topeka Police Department then opened the container and confirmed that it was empty.
Saleh says the person who left the item has been identified and has been questioned by police.
“We know who we’re dealing with, but we’re keeping out options open and don’t want to rule anything out,” Saleh said. “I think the important thing here is that he did self-report that he made a mistake. He claims it was his buddy, but it’s too early to rule one way or another.”
Saleh says the object was a brown canister approximately a little over a foot tall and a foot wide.
Harrison Street from 8th to 10th Street and 10th Street from Harrison to Jackson will remain closed until authorities are finished at the scene.
Story by Ryan Ogle / AM 580 WIBW Radio
ORIGINAL: Some streets around the Kansas Statehouse were closed Friday morning after a suspicious package was found on the lawn on the southwest side of the building.
Capt. Andy Dean says the Capitol remains open Friday amid the investigation. Dean is the supervisor of the Capitol Police division within the Kansas Highway Patrol.
He says the investigation began after a man walked came into the police department around 6:30 a.m. Friday and reported that another person had left the package on the Capitol grounds. Dean says the package appears to be a barrel with a hazardous material decal.
The Topeka Police Department’s bomb squad has responded. It is not believed there is any threat to the public.