By JOSH NEWTON
Federal and local authorities are investigating after an explosive device, explosive components, and a firearm were found inside a bag left at the front door of AmeriGas Thursday.
Tahlequah Chief of Police Nate King said officers were called to the propane company on South Muskogee Avenue at around 11:45 a.m. Police were told a person had left some sort of bag – later described as a rucksack, or large backpack – and “made mention of an explosive device.”
Officers arrived and saw what they believed to be an explosive device, so they backed out and called for assistance. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Bomb Squad and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to the scene.
Several other agencies also responded and helped evacuate all homes and businesses in the vicinity of AmeriGas. Traffic was rerouted, causing lengthy waits on Willis, Park Hill and Murrell Home roads, among others.
“The highway patrol bomb squad did identify an explosive device in the ruck sack, along with several other explosive components,” said King. “A handgun and several rounds of ammunition for a gun were also located within the bag.”
The OHP exposed of the device Thursday afternoon, and other items collected by investigators will be maintained as evidence by the Tahlequah Police Department, King said.
“Anytime you have an explosive in the hand of someone not experienced to use it, or who could accidentally detonate it, you’re running a risk,” said King. “The device [being left at AmeriGas] multiplies the danger quite a bit.”
King said the suspect’s identity is not being released due to the ongoing investigation. Sources close to the investigation said the suspect was transported to a regional hospital, but King would neither confirm nor deny the report.
No arrest had been made as of Thursday evening, King said.
“Right now, the Tahlequah Police Department will be handling the investigation with the assistance of the ATF, which has offered its assistance,” said King. “We appreciate all of the assistance we received [Thursday] from the different agencies that pitched in.”
The scene at AmeriGas was cleared at about 3 p.m. and roads were reopened for traffic.