Suspicious box cleared at Detroit transit center

James David Dickson, and Holly Fournier

A suspicious package was cleared Thursday afternoon after its discovery prompted an evacuation at Detroit’s Rosa Parks Transit Center.

The contents package — a metal box with a lock — remain unknown, according to officials on the scene. It was found inside the terminal around 12:40 p.m., Detroit police Sgt. Cassandra Lewis said earlier Thursday.

The box was cleared shortly before 3 p.m.

The Detroit Police Department’s bomb squad assisted in the investigation, but primary responsibility for the transit center’s security fell to the Detroit Department of Transportation’s own police force.

The transit center is on the west side of downtown on Cass just north of Michigan Avenue.

Several Detroit police cars, fire engines and two Detroit police bomb squad trucks were stationed at the Rosa Parks Transit Center an hour after evacuation. The nearby People Mover remained in operation throughout the incident.

Detroit Fire Department downtown Chief Kevin Kortas confirmed from the scene that officials were called to investigate the suspicious package inside the Rosa Parks Transit Center building. Kortas added that authorities were going to attempt to move the package to a bomb-proof vehicle.

Kortas arrived on the scene shortly before 2 p.m. as officials began moving vehicles further from the transit building.

Just after 2 p.m., a man dressed in bomb suit emerged from the transit center building and walked into the DPD bomb squad truck. The man then headed back into the building to use equipment to X-ray the box, allowing police to analyze the results.

After it was determined that the contents in the box were not explosive, the man retrieved a sledge hammer and carried it into the transit center building.

As of Thursday afternoon Lewis said she did not know what was inside the box.

Bus and People Mover traffic continued through the incident, with buses and passengers initially redirected to Grand River. Most police activity was centered near Grand River and Times Square, at the north end of the transit complex. Buses also gathered there to pick up passengers until the public was moved further from the scene shortly after 2 p.m.

Officials from the Detroit Department of Transportation could not immediately be reached to explain how the incident affected travel times.

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.