Breaking: North St. Paul city block cleared out by report of suspicious package; bomb squad called

(Kaitlyn Roby/Review ‏@KRobyNews)

Police blocked off East Seventh Avenue from Margaret to Charles Street a little after noon Wednesday on a report of a suspicious package. Police went door-to-door evacuating shoppers, diners and business owners and called in the St. Paul Bomb Squad. (Holly Wenzel / Review photo)

North St. Paul fire/police blocked off 7th Ave at Margaret St. Reportedly a suspicious package being investigated (Kaitlyn Roby/Review ‏@KRobyNews)

North St. Paul police and fire blocked off East Seventh Avenue from Margaret to Charles Street, after receiving a report that an abandoned bag in front of Luther Auctions might contain hazardous materials. They evacuated everyone working or shopping in the vicinity, including the students from the District 622 program housed at Keindel's Korner. (Holly Wenzel / Review photo)

North St. Paul firefighters gathered in front of La Garage and Gallery Wednesday around 12:30 p.m., waiting for the St. Paul Bomb Squad to look over a package in front of Luther Auctions next door. (Holly Wenzel / Review photo)

Holly Wenzel
Review staff

A little after noon Thursday, shoppers, diners and business proprieters were surprised as North St. Paul squad cars blocked "Main Street," East Seventh Avenue, for a full city block.

Squads with flashing lights parked across the intersections at Margaret and Charles streets and officers went from door to door telling patrons and owners alike they had to evacuate.

Police had gotten a call about a "suspicious package" abandoned in front of Luther Auction House, 2556 East Seventh Avenue, and were taking no chances.

"Oh my goodness -- really? We have to close?" the women staffing the desk at the Antique Mall, right across the street from Luther, asked a uniformed officer before hurriedly packing their things and locking the door.

Tracy Luther, reached on his cell phone around 1 p.m., was lingering behind his building to keep an eye on things. "There's a suspicious package in front of the auction house; they're x-raying it as I speak," he said. "It's a sports bag -- a Minnesota Wild sports bag."

"I didn't call police," he continued. "I don't know who spotted it. It wasn't my staff or me."

Luther confirmed that everyone had been sent away from the area, "even the people in the offices upstairs."

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