A man carrying what he said was a bomb walked into the building housing the headquarters of the Spokane County Democratic Party on Wednesday morning, Spokane Police said.
As occupants of the building fled, the man passed over a written document to someone inside and briefly “detained” one other person, said Sgt. Terry Preuninger, a Spokane Police spokesperson.
Witnesses said he carried a backpack with wires coming out of it, Preuninger said. The man, who surrendered shortly after police arrived, also started a small fire in the building, Preuninger said, that went out shortly after police discovered it.
“Some employees were able to immediately leave,” he said. “They came out in waves.”
No injuries were reported and the bomb squad eventually determined that the bag did not contain an explosive device.
The building, on North Division Street in Spokane, also houses a local branch of the Teamsters, among other businesses.
Spokane Police received two 911 calls from the building shortly after 10:15 Wednesday morning. The first call said a man had entered the building claiming to have a bomb and the second call said he claimed to have a pipe bomb, Preuninger said.
Police arrived on the scene about five minutes after the 911 call, Preuninger said.
The person that the man “detained” was able to exit the building after a few minutes, Preuninger said, and the suspect himself came out shortly after and surrendered. He was taken into custody 14 minutes after the first 911 call and nine minutes after police arrived, Preuninger said.
The pack, with the device in it, was left inside the building, Preuninger said.
He said there were two active investigations ongoing, one from a combined city-county explosives-disposal unit and one from the city’s Major Crimes Unit. Police shut down six blocks of the street Wednesday afternoon as they investigated.
In a joint statement, Spokane County Democrats Chair Nicole Bishop and Washington State Democrats Chair Tina Podlodowski said that no one at the party headquarters suffered “significant injuries.”
“We are so relieved that no one was harmed in this reprehensible act of violence,” Bishop and Podlodowski said. “Our primary concern is for the safety of our volunteers and the broader community of Spokane. We urge every elected official and community leader to join us in condemning this apparently politically motivated act of violence.”
State Rep. J.T. Wilcox, the Republican minority leader, wrote on Twitter: “Thank goodness no one was injured. We all need to intervene whenever possible to prevent political violence. It destroys us, all the innocents and consumes its perpetrators.”
The state Democratic Party referred all questions to police.