Better safe than sorry: Small percentage of calls to Bomb Squad turn out to be serious

Local News

When a suspicious package is found in this part of Ohio, the Youngstown Police Department’s Bomb Squad is called in. But, how does someone know a package is suspicious? And if it is, what happens next?

In May of last year in downtown Warren, and then again in June of last year at the GetGo gas station in Austintown, the Youngstown Bomb Squad responded to reports of suspicious packages.

“We put everybody back at least 500 feet. One of us puts on a bomb suit. We go up to the package, we X-ray the package, we come back and see the contents of the package and see if there’s explosives inside the package,” said Youngstown Bomb Squad member Brad Ditullio.

Ditullio says the Bomb Squad responds to between 30 and 40 reports a year, about 10 of which are for real bombs.

“How often is it not an explosive? Very often. There’s a lot of suspicious packages out there. Everybody thinks they received something they didn’t order. They call us and when we get down there they forgot they ordered something,” Ditullio said.

Ditullio says some clues a package may have a bomb inside are misspelled words, intended for someone who doesn’t often get mail. Also, look for excessive postage and excessive tape, something leaking, wires hanging out or anything that’s ticking.

“Definitely evacuate the premises and leave the package where it’s located. Don’t pick it up, don’t put it in a drawer, don’t put it in a closet or anything. Just leave it where it lays,” Ditullio said.

The Warren package ended up being a portable turntable used by a DJ. The Austintown package was a child’s toy. But, you never know.

“If we think we can move it we’ll try and get it out of there safely and take it to a safe location. But sometimes we actually have to detonate the package right there on scene,” Ditullio said.

The Bomb Squad actually covers six counties: Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Carroll, Jefferson and Harrison.

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