Lawrence Man Charged With Leaving Suitcase Near Homeland Security SUV

BOSTON (CBS) – Boston police arrested a man they said left a suspicious suitcase with wires next to a Homeland Security SUV before fleeing Friday morning.

Police Commissioner William Evans said the suitcase was left next to the vehicle, which was parked just off Atlantic Avenue around 9:50 a.m.

The bag was eventually blown up by the bomb squad, but police spent the afternoon searching for the man caught on a security camera leaving it there.

At about 3:30 p.m., officers in Lawrence arrested James Derepentigny, 50.

He was charged with planting a hoax device.

James Derepentigny of Lawrence arrested in connection with Boston bomb hoax (WBZ-TV)

James Derepentigny of Lawrence arrested in connection with Boston bomb hoax (WBZ-TV)

The bomb squad was called in Friday morning. It was a Homeland Security officer who noticed the case by the rear of the vehicle, and a check of surveillance video in the area immediately raised suspicion.

It was a painstaking operation for more some two hours, as an x-ray revealed some wires and a power source inside. Police finally made the decision to perform a controlled detonation.

“We neutralized it by detonating it,” said Evans. “Turns out there was nothing explosive, but we did it out of an abundance of caution.”

The suitcase was also full of men’s clothes, which were scattered at the scene after the explosion.

“What bothers us is the behavior and why this individual placed it next to a Homeland Security vehicle and then hurried away,” Evans said.

The suitcase was left next to this Homeland Security SUV before it was moved and blown up. (Photo credit: Beth Germano-WBZ-TV)

The suitcase was left next to this Homeland Security SUV before it was moved and blown up. (Photo credit: Beth Germano-WBZ-TV)

State Police closed several streets in the area for about two hours for the investigation, detonation and cleanup.

Armed tactical officers kept people from coming near the suitcase before it was blown up.

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Lawrence Police said about 5 to 10 minutes after the surveillance pictures were made public, they received a 911 call. The caller reported the suspect was walking along a Lawrence street.

Officer Harold Rogers was nearby and arrested Derepentigny at South Broadway and Kingston. Rogers said because Derepentigny was accused of a bomb hoax he took him into custody at gunpoint, but the arrest went smoothly.

“He said, ‘I’m not going to say anything without a lawyer’ and he didn’t. And, he started talking about the weather,” said Rogers.

Lawrence Police said Derepentigny is from Lawrence and is currently homeless. They said he has a criminal record, but nothing reaching the level of the scare in Boston.

“I was a little shocked that someone would do something – especially in the environment we’ve been dealing with lately – that someone would cause this level of distress, anxiety,” said Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick.

Despite the suspicious nature of the incident, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said there is no threat to the public.

“People are safe. There are no threats to the city,” he told WBZ-TV.

Evans added that suspicious behavior is taken especially seriously in wake of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. that left 14 people dead.

“Unfortunately I think we’re all on a little bit of a heightened alert because of what happened in San Bernardino. People have a right to be concerned,” said Evans.

Employees at nearby James Hook and Company were pushed way back. “Once it’s in your backyard like this it’s not something you expect to happen so it can definitely set you off a little bit,” said manager Ricky Caswell.

Police are investigating what Derepentigny’s intentions were.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano and Katie Brace contributed to this report.

More from Beth Germano
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