State police detonate fake pipe bomb at Oakland church

Posted May 23, 2012, at 11:14 a.m.
Last modified May 23, 2012, at 5:18 p.m.

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OAKLAND, Maine — The Maine State Police Bomb Squad detonated what turned out to be a fake pipe bomb at an Oakland church on Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

Oakland police Capt. Rick Stubbert said a passer-by alerted police at 9:15 Wednesday morning. The device was found on the steps of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church.

“It looked like a pipe bomb but it did not contain any explosive materials,” Stubbert told the Bangor Daily News.

Police were swift in their response, according to Stubbert, shutting down the busy residential street and evacuating residents.

The state police bomb squad used a remote-controlled robot to investigate, and when the device was blasted open, authorities determined it wasn’t a pipe bomb.

“It was a container that resembled a pipe bomb,” said Sgt. Ken Grimes of the state fire marshal’s office.

“It was taken very seriously because it looked like a pipe bomb,” added Stubbert. “That was the general consensus of all three agencies involved.”

Sue Bernard, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, said the group was thankful that nobody was seriously injured.

“The Church is troubled about the alarming and disturbing incident that took place at St. Theresa’s Church in Oakland today,” Bernard said in a statement. “While we are grateful no one was injured and no damage occurred, we are anxious to find out the results of the police investigation and hopeful that this was not intentionally threatening.”

Grimes said it’s standard protocol to detonate a device that resembles a bomb.

“Everything went according to plan, which is the best result,” he said. “Everybody was safe and there was no property damage.”

Stubbert said the incident remains under investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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