On Tuesday May 28, a bomb scare closed four blocks of Downtown for an hour and a half -- but it turned out that the only thing that blew up were balloons.
Around mid-day, Minneapolis Police were called to the Grand Hotel, 615 2nd Ave. S., after a witness heard a man say that a cement block wrapped in duct tape with protruding wires was going to explode.
After clearing a four-block area, the police bomb squad used explosives to blow up the block, which they later found contained no explosives.
Hours later, the bomb squad received a voicemail that solved the case. A man said he had been hired to provide 200 balloons for an event at Lifetime Fitness the previous Saturday; the club is located inside the Grand Hotel. The balloons were attached to the block with monofilament wire and secured by duct tape.
"The balloons were cut off, but there were enough elements for people to think it was an explosive device," said police spokesperson Cyndi Barrington. "The nation is on high alert, so we take everything seriously."
Barrington said the man, whom the police will not name, was not arrested "since he did not commit a crime."
Downtown police command crime-prevention specialist Luther Krueger said, "property managers and security should clean up after events like that. Someone calls in and says something's going to explode, we're not going to sit on our hands."
Krueger said that police thought more nearby buildings should have been evacuated, but building officials resisted. "That's their call," he said. "False alarm? Yeah. But better that than thousands of injuries or deaths."
Barrington added that officers are looking for the person who claimed the block would blow up, but had no suspects at press time.