Bomb scare closes Speedway

By Ross Hager
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 4, 2005

An attempted bank robbery yesterday morning closed down East Speedway Boulevard for more than four hours, slowing down the commute to campus for pedestrians and drivers alike.

The Tucson Police Department received a call at 9:31 a.m. from an employee at Wells Fargo, 1701 E. Speedway Blvd., who said a man was attempting to rob the bank and threatened to use an explosive device, police said.

Police arrived at the scene and evacuated the bank employees and customers.

At 9:36 a.m., police detained the adult male suspect and the Bomb Squad began to search for the explosive device, said Dallas Wilson, Tucson Police Department public information officer.

"We were searching the suspect's vehicle, the parking lot and the surrounding area," Wilson said. "No explosive device was found."

Police said East Speedway Boulevard and the surrounding area, which included Babcock Residence Hall, were closed for safety purposes while the Bomb Squad conducted their search.

Adam Spenner, a sophomore majoring Spanish and resident of Babcock, said he was unable to go home because the underpass underneath East Speedway Boulevard and Warren Street was shut down.

"I got done at 10 a.m. and tried to come back," he said. "I had to find something to do on campus for four hours."

Julie Yerkes, a molecular and cellular biology sophomore, said the closures made the walk from Babcock to her class long and difficult.

"It took me 30 minutes to get to campus," she said. "It sucks when our underpass is closed. I mean, it's only a little further, but still."

The shut down of East Speedway Boulevard affected traffic heading in both directions on between North Campbell Avenue and North Park Avenue, Wilson said.

Lauren Angrest, a journalism junior, was on her way to class and said the traffic turned her two-minute ride to campus into a 20-minute crawl.

"There were a lot of people getting angry and getting out of their cars, and the cops were yelling at people to get back into their cars," she said. "They weren't giving us any information about what was going on or telling us how else to get to campus."

Erica Folkoff, a communication senior, said the closure was not only time consuming but also annoying.

"It was really slow and frustrating because no one knew what was going on," she said. "It took me 20 extra minutes to get to campus."

East Speedway Boulevard was reopened to eastbound traffic at about 1:30 p.m., but westbound traffic was still closed for safety purposes until just before 2 p.m., Wilson said.

Police did not release information on the suspect.