Suspicious package detonated |

Suspicious package detonated

William Ferchland, Tribune staff writer

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Aaron Crawford of the Douglas County Sherrif's Department places a detonator tool next to a suspicious package.

A duct-taped package sent to an El Dorado County assistant district attorney from Oklahoma was opened by a bomb technician Monday afternoon.

Hans Uthe received the package in the mail yesterday. It was sent by a woman convicted of a felony years ago, but the charge was recently lowered to a misdemeanor.

Due to the suspicious nature of the package, Uthe had it scanned through the X-ray machine at the entrance of the neighboring El Dorado County Superior Court.

When authorities saw it had some electrical components, they instructed Uthe to set the package on a boulder in the middle of the center.

The package was a testament to South Shore’s mutual aid. Sheriff’s deputies mixed with police officers used yellow tape to create a perimeter. A Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District vehicle responded, as well as firefighters from South Lake Tahoe. The bomb technician, Aaron Crawford, works for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.

The scare created several small difficulties in parking as well for a jury and a pair of doctors who were entering the court and jail, respectively. The buildings were not evacuated but people were advised to move away from nearby windows. People were denied access to the administrative center at lunchtime .

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El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell believed that if the package were a bomb, it would be triggered by the release of pressure if opened.

In the end Crawford placed an instrument next to the package. About 40 yards away the instrument was triggered to detonate the possible bomb. He gave the OK sign when he went to inspect the remains. Inside was a crystal with a light fixture. They were unscathed.

“It looked legitimate,” Crawford said afterward of the x-ray image. “We treat everything as legitimate until we prove otherwise.”

Lovell complimented Crawford’s work of not blowing the package to smithereens.

“The bomb squad did a very good job in protecting the packaging,” he said.

– E-mail William Ferchland at