BRADENTON — Officials have determined that a suspicious package that forced the evacuation of the Bradenton Villages apartments was not a bomb.
Just before 2:30 p.m., the sound of the a Manatee County Sheriff's Office firing projectiles into the suspicious package could be heard.
The package did not contain explosives, according to authorities.
Police evacuated the area after the package was found in the 300 block of 12th Avenue West. Police Chief Michael Radzilowski is asking Bradenton residents to avoid the public housing complex as they investigate the bomb threat.
Authorities have halted all train traffic near Bradenton Villages, Radzilowski said.
The Bradenton Fire Department was called to investigate, along with the sheriff's office bomb unit.
Three homeless individuals were talking to each other in a resident's rental unit when one man said he was having problems with his family and then showed the others a suspicious object that may have been a homemade bomb, according to Bradenton police Captain William Fowler. The two left and reported it to police.
The two left the rental unit and told police the suspect's name and it was someone police officers knew, Fowler said. Police located the man and arrested him.
"We don't take any chances," Fowler said as the sheriff's office bomb squad surrounded the house.
One resident was home next door with her baby when police knocked on her door, told her there was a situation and she needed to evacuate.
"I never thought something that bad would happen,"she said.
Another resident two houses down said she was home studying when she heard the commotion.
"I was on my computer and my dog started barking up a storm," she said. "I looked out the window and seen all this. "
Travis Wynn was at his sister's home babysitting when he allowed the homeless suspect in.
"He came over wanting to hang out, I guess," Wynn said. "I let him in. "
Wynn says he was only there for about 15 minutes before things turned scary. "I don't know much about him, " Wynn said. "I do know that he is apparently an idiot. "
The Bradenton Housing Authority is reeling after federal agents on Sept. 19 seized documents for a federal Department of Housing and Urban Development investigation. While the results of the investigation are pending, the authority's board voted on Sept. 24 to fire its top two employees, Executive Director Wenston DeSue and his live-in girlfriend Stephany West, who was the authority's special projects director. Financial Director Darcy Branch was appointed as the acting director.
Bradenton Villages is also facing criticism by residents for mold problems and lack of maintenance, coupled with questionable fees for services normally covered by landlords.
Stay with Bradenton.com for more information.