The bomb squad determined after a thorough search, however, that nothing dangerous was inside of the leather briefcase left on South Del Puerto Avenue just south of Plaza Circle, and business resumed as usual Monday afternoon.
Bank employees became aware of the lone briefcase when a concerned customer acknowledged the leather brown bag resting against the stone walls, according to local police.
Employees sought help from Patterson Police Services at 11:03 a.m., and were told to evacuate the premises.
The sheriff’s bomb squad quickly arrived with a robot to survey the scene at 11:18 a.m., using police vehicles to block two of the downtown circle’s eight entries and exits between West Las Palmas and South Del Puerto avenues.
A few members of the police force, including Chief Tori Hughes, stood near City Hall, where they watched from a moderately tall and safe distance.
There were occasional breaks in traffic at noon, when onlookers slowed their cars to watch the robot probe the bag with an X-ray screen. Police and public works staff intervened to get the cars moving through a detoured path, and were generally able to keep concerned citizens away from the suspicious bag by prompting them to stay along the edge of the plaza.
The investigation took roughly 30 minutes to complete before the bag was classified as non-threatening, Hughes said.
“It was just somebody that forgot their briefcase,” said Hughes several hours after the investigation. “The bag was full of paperwork; nothing else. The person had met someone in front of the bank, talked with them and forgot about their bag.”
The crowd dispersed over the course of a three-hour span, and Tri Counties Bank employees resumed their normal business hours by 2 p.m. in the afternoon.
Bank employees said they could not comment on the matter, relaying all questions to bank officials in their Chico-based office. The bank’s company officials directed all questions about the incident to police.
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