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Elaborate hoax ties up bomb squad
Manteca Police shut down Louise Ave for 1 hours
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Manteca Police bomb squad officer Mike Keener prepares to detonate a suspicious plastic bag thought to be a bomb with visible switches, wiring and capacitors on the north sidewalk on East Louise Avenue at Garden Gate Drive about 1 p.m. Monday. - photo by GLENN KAHL

The threat of a potential bomb on the side of Louise Avenue near Garden Gate Drive prompted Manteca Police to shut down the major east-west arterial from Main Street to near the Highway 99 overcrossing for an hour and a half early Monday afternoon.

Officers responded to an alert citizen who had found a clear plastic grocery bag at 1 p.m. with wiring to switches and capacitors inside. It had been placed near the curbing on the north side of the roadway just east of the Garden Gate intersection.

Manteca officers along with SHARP volunteers cordoned off all the streets leading into Louise Avenue with yellow crime scene tape. They made contact with residents living in a close proximity to the bag. Those who might have been within range of a blast and its resulting shrapnel were given the option to evacuate their home.

Many, however, stood outside in the 100 degree plus temperature concerned for their neighbors.

With the Manteca Bomb Unit equipment temporarily out of service, police called the Stockton Police Department. Its bomb squad and five officers responded to the Manteca scene within 25 minutes and reported to Manteca’s command post located around the corner at the intersection of Swallow Avenue and Mt. Dew Drive.

Manteca bomb squad lead officer Mike Keener put on a protective flack suit and helmet before approaching the suspicious package. He slowly set up a detonating device aiming it at the bag on the ground. Keener slowly returned to the staging area with the other officers and waited for the detonation. There was a yelled warning, “Fire in the hole,” which is a signal that an explosive is about to be detonated.

The bag and its contents were blown apart and scattered about six feet to the west. A cadre of officers then moved in from around the command center and investigated the scattered contents that remained after the blast. They determined that contents of the bag had not been anything but a hoax that looked very real and was very elaborate, according to officers.

The Manteca Police Department is part of the Metropolitan Bomb Squad that includes the Sheriff’s Department, Lodi Police Department, and the Stockton Police Department.

The Manteca District Ambulance and a unit from the Manteca Fire Department were on standby during the investigation. Police put out a directive on Nixle to the Manteca citizenry to avoid Louise Avenue warning that it had been shut down temporarily. They did not indicate the problem.