NEWS

Pipe bomb discovery shocks St. John's council

08/07/2012 09:14 EDT | Updated 10/07/2012 05:12 EDT
The City of St. John's reopened its outdoor recreational facilities today as police investigated how a homemade pipe bomb wound up on a city-owned tennis court.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary confirmed early Tuesday that the homemade explosive found at the Wedgewood Park tennis court Monday morning was a pipe bomb.

"Frightening when you think of it," said St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe, who told a council meeting Monday evening of the discovery, adding it is not often "that something like this comes to our doorstep. Absolutely frightening."

No arrests have yet been made, and police have had little to say about the bomb, which was scanned by an X-ray and a robot before it was seized.

RNC Insp. Brian Dowden said members of the public were not "in any danger" in the nearby parking lot and recreation centre while police investigated the discovery.

“The device was removed from the tennis court and taken to an area where it was separated using specialized tools, and components of the device were preserved as evidence," Dowden told reporters Tuesday.

City defends time it took to tell public

The city, meanwhile, is defending why it took more than six hours for the public to be told of the discovery, and for other parks, pools and facilities to be shut down.

Frank Galgay, a councillor who chairs the parks and recreation committee, said while Wedgewood Park was cleared immediately, it took time for police and city officials to determine what they were dealing with.

"You have to appreciate that these things take a bit of time to investigate," Galgay said Tuesday. "The RNC came immediately to the scene. That takes time — there's no magic wand."

A city employee found the bomb around 10 a.m., as children were arriving for tennis lessons. Parent Xihue Chen described the package, which had been wrapped in black tape, as being about the size of a beer bottle.

The city did not shut down other parks and facilities until 4:30 p.m., just as councillors were gathering for their meeting.

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