Saturday, May 22, 1999

Package prompts bomb scare

Turns out to be harmless

By Jaymes K. Song


A suspicious package that forced the evacuation of two buildings and snarled downtown traffic yesterday was nothing more than a thank-you gift.

Authorities feared a package addressed to a deputy in the attorney general's office on Queen Street might be a bomb.

After Fire Department hazardous materials specialists determined the package contained no chemicals, police bomb technicians X-rayed it and found that it contained dress shirts, said Specialized Services Division Sgt. Derek Hanzawa.

Police closed a section of Punchbowl Street between Queen and King streets from 10:14 a.m. to 12:40 p.m.

The package, addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rick Damerville, sparked suspicion due to its appearance, its wax seals, the fact that the sender's name and return street name were the same, and its foreign point of origin, officials said later.

Damerville said he recently found jailed drug suspect Ahsan Alizar a new attorney, and Alizar sent him a thank-you note, saying his mother in Pakistan would send him something.

Markings indicated the package was from Pakistan, said Deborah Peden, a messenger with the attorney general's office who had picked up the package at the post office.

The package was about 1 foot by 9 inches, wrapped in gray cloth material, said David Webber, a deputy attorney general. The package didn't look normal and was odd-shaped, he said. Suspicious packages are something they always look out for, he said.

At 10:36, the police bomb squad was called.

Arriving at the attorney general's office, 425 Queen St., officers evacuated the building, the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building next door and all window-front offices of neighboring buildings on Queen, Punchbowl and Mililani streets while the police bomb squad entered the building.

Fire and medical crews stood by.

"It's causing a lot of gridlock and hassles for people around downtown, but we're just trying to be as safe as possible," said fire Capt. Richard Soo.

Damerville was not at his office during the scare, but, contacted after the incident, he said he had received a letter last week telling him he would receive a gift from Pakistan.

"I didn't expect to put out a warning that a package was coming," he said.

Damerville said he'll probably have the shirts framed as a memento because of all the attention they drew.

Star-Bulletin writer Debra Barayuga contributed to this report.

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