NEWPORT — Newport police Chief Keith Lewis said at 3:45 p.m. Monday state investigators had cleared a threat and allowed the reopening of the Walmart Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Highway 70 and Roberts Road after examining a suspicious item in the parking lot.
“All normal operations at the store have resumed,” he said.
The item, a briefcase, was X-rayed by the State Bureau of Investigation and found to contain no items out of the ordinary, the chief said.
Just after 2 p.m., Newport police Chief Keith Lewis said the State Bureau and Investigation bomb squad was on the way to look at the item, which he described as a typical briefcase with a padlock on the front.
“We’re still on the scene,” he said at the time, waiting for the SBI, but he was convinced there was no danger.
The 911 call indicated there appeared to be “wires” hanging out of the device, but Chief Lewis said it appears to be some sort of elastic, perhaps something like a “hair scrunchy.”
At any rate, the Newport Police Department has let Walmart Neighborhood Market employees back into the store.
“Even though the temperature outside isn’t that high, it’s been pretty high out there on the black tarmac,” where the employees had been waiting, he said.
Chief Lewis further noted the employees let in before the SBI cleared the scene were at what was judged to be a safe distance from any threat posed by what is inside the briefcase at the pharmacy side of the store.
“They will X-ray it,” he said of the SBI.
The preliminary investigation indicated the brief case appeared to have fallen out of the back of a van driven by a woman with a child, he chief continued. He said he felt confident the SBI would look at the item and issue an all-clear quickly.
Traffic on Highway 70 and Roberts Road was minimally affected during the afternoon because the entrance to the grocery stores was blocked, the chief said.
Reporter's note: This article was last updated at 5:24 p.m. Monday, May 10, 2021.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.