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Suspicious object prompts evacuation
Gainesville Police find no danger in military-type canister
GBI officials watch the movements of a robot from the inside of the Bomb Disposal Unit parked on Broad Street Wednesday afternoon.

A suspicious object found Wednesday afternoon on Broad Street prompted an evacuation but turned out to not be dangerous, Gainesville Police said.

Police responded to a call at 12:24 p.m. that a military-type canister was dropped off outside of Larisa Reifman's medical office. The driver left the scene.

"I noticed the car sitting there for a while and it left real fast. That's when I called 911," said Kathy Schaefer, a medical office assistant.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Bomb Disposal Unit used a remote-controlled robot to inspect the object.

Officer Kevin Holbrook of the Gainesville Police Department said the object wasn't potentially explosive.

It was an ammo container with unspecified miscellaneous contents.

He added that no threats had been made.

"We just want to double check and take all precautions," Holbrook said.

Gainesville police established a perimeter, and Broad Street was closed from E.E. Butler Parkway to Race Street. A number of nearby businesses also were evacuated.

Holbrook said it was unfortunate that business owners and their customers were impacted by the incident. It also took away from law enforcement resources, he said.

Despy Foley's business, Joyce Merck Florist, was closed for about three hours Wednesday. She said her company was slightly late with deliveries as a result of the closure.

"Ninety percent of our business is over the phone. If people can't reach us, they don't know what to do," she said. "They might call another florist."

A customer at Foxhole Gun & Archery, Brad Masters, said he was in the middle of a purchase when police evacuated the store. He stood by as the bomb unit cleared the canister, so he could return to the store for his items.

"It's better to be safe than sorry I guess, in this day and time anyways," Masters said.

Foxhole owner Jon Lipscomb said police were polite and professional during the evacuation, which relaxed his customers. He said the object looked like a small, metal can and it appeared to be military grade.

"Civilians can buy them anywhere. A lot of people use them to hold tools," Lipscomb said.

Wanda McRae, an office manager for the dentist office located next door, said the event was like police dramas on TV.

McRae said she believes it's better to be safe; if suspicious objects are ignored, the entire block could be put in danger.

"Material things can be re-bought but lives can't," she said.

The Gainesville Police Department will continue investigating.


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