Thursday, 4:30 PM
Bomb squad removes suspicious object that closed I-93 north
By John R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
A bomb squad used a small explosive filled with water to neutralize a suspicious object in Charlestown that forced the shutdown of northbound Interstate 93 and closed the Sullivan Square T station.
A crowd of onlookers gasped as the small explosion echoed through the transportation complex just after 10 a.m. Witnesses had described a package with wires and tubes protruding out of it stuck on a steel support girder underneath the interstate about 12 to 15 feet above the bus depot, said MBTA spokesman Joseph Pesaturo.
"It was nerve racking," said Robert A. Ellington, 29, who ran to Sullivan Square to investigate when he heard whirl of television news helicopters. "Itís scary, but exciting though."
Transit police Lieutenant Salvatore Venturelli said that a passenger had noticed the object at 8:05 a.m. and alerted authorities. The object did have some components consistent with an improvised explosive device including an electronic circuit board, but it was not a bomb, Venturelli said.
Investigators do not know how the object got onto the girder and were trying to determine if it was a hoax or something else entirely, said Venturelli, who decline to describe the object in detail because of the ongoing investigation.
"It's not consistent with equipment that would be there normally," Venturelli said.
Northbound I-93 reopened to traffic at about 10:05 a.m. after being closed for almost an hour, said State Police Sergeant Robert Bousquet.
The package was underneath a ramp heading from Sullivan Square to northbound I-93.
The Orange Line is also running again. Bus service continued to Sullivan Square through much of the incident as MBTA officials rapidly moved people between shuttle buses coming in from Orange Line stations.
An army of emergency vehicles responded to the scene with lights flashing, including police cruisers, fire trucks, ambulances, and the Boston Police Department bomb squad.
Police inspected the package using a truck-mounted work platform. Transit police officer Joseph Mathews from the explosive detection unit donned the thick green armor of the bomb squad an approached the object.
Matthews attached cables to the device and officials later fired the small water explosive to render the object safe.
Michael Duran, a senior at Charlestown High School, was late to class because of the investigation, but he said he had already called in to alert his teachers. Duran said the school administrator was skeptical and suggested that the 18-year-old senior had simply overslept.
"She thought that," Duran said of the school administrator he spoke to today, "but I told her there was a bomb or something and that I saw a whole lot of state police around."
Duran said he was able to convince the administrator that he was telling the truth. He said it usually takes no more than 13 minutes once he arrives at Sullivan Square to get on the number 93 bus, which takes him to school. Duran waited for at least 45 minutes today in the subfreezing cold.