Skip to main content

Originally published Monday, July 21, 2014 at 6:05 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments
  • Print

Fake bomb, left on bus after training exercise, causes scare

A suspicious bag left on a King County Metro bus that caused passengers to be evacuated and businesses to be shut down in Kent this morning contained a training device left over from a drill last week, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Seattle Times staff reporter


King County Sheriff’s Office, this dud’s for you.

A carefully crafted dummy pipe bomb that was inadvertently left behind after a Sheriff’s Office training exercise last week sparked an all-too-real bomb scare Monday morning when a passenger found it aboard a King County Metro bus.

The bus and nearby businesses in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood were evacuated and streets were closed for several hours while the sheriff’s bomb squad and a SWAT team responded.

A few hours after the report, the Sheriff’s Office realized that the “bomb” may have been one of theirs.

“It’s embarrassing. We know it’s inconvenienced a lot of people, and we don’t take it lightly,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. DB Gates. “We’re more than willing to throw ourselves on our sword for this one.”

The dummy pipe bomb was part of a training exercise Thursday designed to test the response of deputies to a terrorist bombing, Gates said. The training scenario called for an attack on multiple Metro coaches, resulting in numerous victims, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies were supposed to have double- and triple-checked the buses to make sure all the training devices were removed after the drill, said Gates, but that apparently failed to happen.

According to Gates, a passenger got on the Route 161 bus shortly before 7:45 a.m. Monday and found a zipped backpack under a seat. The passenger looked inside and saw the realistic-looking dummy bomb, Gates said.

The passenger did “exactly what he was supposed to do” and reported the device to the bus driver, who also called police and evacuated the bus at 104th Avenue Southeast just north of Southeast 240th Street, Gates said.

It wasn’t until about 11:15 a.m. that the Sheriff’s Office realized that the device may have been left over from last week’s drill, she said.

“But we couldn’t just say it’s a fake device,” she said. Gates said protocols still had to be observed and the device had to be treated as if it were a potential threat.

Gates said the bomb squad used a robot and a “water dispersement device” that broke the phony pipe bomb into pieces.

“All we can do now is apologize for how that went down and change our protocol,” she said.

A spokesman for King County Metro said it appears the bus had not been in use since last week’s drill, which explains why the backpack wasn’t spotted until Monday morning.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at or 206-464-8983.

Want unlimited access to Subscribe now!

Also in Local News

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Get ready for 2015

Get ready for 2015

The Seattle Times 12-month wall calendar features hand-picked photos of life in the Pacific Northwest. Order while supplies last!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times photographs

Seattle space needle and mountains

Purchase The Seattle Times images

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►