CHICAGO | An investigation by the Chicago Police Department's bomb and arson squad revealed no explosive devices in a package resembling a homemade bomb left on a train platform at the Van Buren Street station during the Wednesday morning rush.
South Shore and Metra Electric commuter trains were stopped on both sides of the station for more than 90 minutes as investigators assessed the scene.
Bob Byrd, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Transit Police Chief, said a South Shore train crew spotted a suspicious item on the train platform just after 7:00 a.m. and reported it to Metra police.
Byrd said Metra police investigated and found the item was a large cooler with a cell phone, wires and a Thermos inside.
"Those are common characteristics of a homemade bomb," Byrd said.
Metra police called for the Chicago Fire Department and a battalion chief brought in the Chicago Police Department's bomb squad to investigate.
"Once on the scene, bomb and arson investigators X-rayed the cooler and determined that it did not contain any type of explosives," Byrd said.
Police issued an all clear just before 8:30 a.m. and train service resumed.
"With the assistance of security video cameras, Metra police were able to identify the owner of the cooler and subsequently clear that person of having any malicious intentions," Byrd said.
Byrd praised all agencies involved in the investigation.
"This was a texbook multi-agency response to a suspicious package," Byrd said. "This is what we train for."
Byrd said the South Shore gets multiple reports daily of items left behind on trains and platforms and in stations and investigates all of them.
"We couldn't risk discharging hundreds of passengers into a situation that could have resulted in a detonation," Byrd said.
NICTD and Metra both participate in the mass transit safety initiative called, “See Something, Say Something,” a national program that encourages rail employees and passengers to report to authorities any suspicious persons, incidents or situations.
Byrd encouraged passengers to be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious behavior to the police by calling 911, NICTD Transit Police at (219) 398-6000 or Metra Police at (312) 322-2800.