An investigation into the contents of a backpack left by the roadside prompted Murrieta police on Sunday to close a section of Calle del Oso Oro for nearly four hours.
The investigation began at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday when a passerby spotted a bright green backpack along the southern curb of Calle del Oso Oro, about a 100 yards from Applewood Place and called police to report it, according to Murrieta police Capt. Rob Firmes.
“This person was aware that there was an organized bicycle ride was scheduled to come through the area,” Firmes said, noting it was a city-organized event but that it involved about 50 kids.
Responding Murrieta officers observed that the backpack was in an upright position and appeared to be “stuffed full with all the zippers closed,” the captain said.
“It was just odd...and because of what was learned in the Boston Marathon bombings, they played it safe and contacted the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hazardous Device Team,” Firmes said.
The sheriff’s team, when contacted by Murrieta police, agreed the backpack was something they should investigate and arrived on scene at about 11:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, officers closed Calle del Oso Oro to through traffic between where the backpack was located and Pepperleaf Street.
“Evacuations were not required but a sheriff’s helicopter came out and kept an eye on open spaces south of there so they could make sure no horseback riders or juveniles entered the area,” Firmes said.
The sheriff’s bomb squad detonated the backpack at about 1:20 p.m. after they had used a robot to videotape it from all four sides and x-rayed its contents, Firmes said.
The decision to blow the backpack up was due to circular metal pieces seen during the x-ray, the captain explained.
It turned out, however, that the metal objects were the buttons of a jacket inside the backpack, he said.
“There was no foul play...they did find some ID in there for a local Murrieta high school student and they were going to contact them.
“The backpack must have been left there by accident.”