Heightened concerns over recent bombings in the United States have prompted a Seattle court to charge a man with malicious placement of an imitation explosive device after he left an empty suitcase in front of a police precinct.
Per the Revised Code of Washington, an "imitation device" means a device or substance that is not an explosive or improvised device, but its appearance would lead a reasonable person to believe it is an explosive or improvised device. Based on the arrest and charges, it is immaterial that the suitcase the man had was empty.
A person who “maliciously” places an imitation device in, upon, under, against or near a building, car, vessel, railroad track, airplane, public utility transmission system or structure, with the intent to give the impression that the device is real, is guilty of:
- A first-degree offense and, as a Class B felony punishable by up to a decade in prison, or a $25,000 fine, or both, if the intent is a terrorist act.
- A second-degree offense and, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison, or a $10,000 fine, or both, if the circumstances do not amount to a first-degree charge.
Police arrested the man after viewing his actions on surveillance video. Just before 11:30 a.m., a day after the Sept. 17 bombings on the East Coast, police say the 44-year-old man wearing surgical-type mask intentionally dropped the small bag in front of a parked police car outside the Capitol Hill East Precinct building. Video footage showed the man appeared to make the sign of the cross before walking away.
When an officer noticed the bag, he alerted the precinct. Concerned by the man's actions on the video and by the bombings the day before in New York and New Jersey, Seattle police shut down the street and brought out a bomb-handling robot and X-ray equipment to investigate while officers with rifles stood guard on the roof of the precinct building.
Within an hour of the man leaving the bag, police tracked him down and arrested him. He told them he found the bag in the trash and left it behind because it was empty. The man was being held on $150,000 bond in the county jail.
The incident occurred a day after two bombs exploded and multiple unexploded bombs were found on the East Coast. The first explosion occurred at a Marine Corps charity race in New Jersey. No one was injured, but two other bombs were found nearby. Later that night, another bomb went off in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, injuring 29 people. The next day two men found a backpack with five bombs inside near a train trestle about 16 miles outside of New York City. Two days after the bombings, police found the suspect. After a shootout in which the suspect was injured, he was taken into custody.
If you believe you have been arrested under a false pretext and are charged with a crime, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.