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"Suspicious package" forces temporary shutdown of Canalside

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Activities are back to normal at one of Buffalo's most popular waterfront attractions. But for several hours, Canalside was closed to the public after the discovery of what was described as a "suspicious package."

Investigators say the item was found around 8 a.m. by a worker cleaning the portable toilets. It was described as a package containing liquid with some other matter mixed in. After 911 was called, numerous agencies from the city, county and federal levels arrived on the scene.

The Erie County Bomb Squad acted first, sending a robot in to investigate. Shortly after, an officer wearing protective gear could be seen making several trips to and from the porta-potties. 

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield briefed reporters three times to provide updates.

"The bomb technicians have determined that it appears to be non-explosive," Whitfield said. "It could still be flammable. It could still be very volatile but at this time we do not think that it is explosive."

Although ruled to be non-explosive, the liquid was not positively identified on site. After the bomb squad concluded its work, the Buffalo Fire Department HazMat team moved in. Two officers in full suits and breathing gear were seen working briefly at the site, containing the suspicious item. It was removed and, according to Whitfield, transported to a local forensics lab for further testing.

Canalside was reopened around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.  

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.