HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was business as usual at the Circuit Court and neighboring buildings by 1 p.m. Thursday, after a bomb scare caused evacuations and shut down Halekauwila between South and Punchbowl for hours during early morning rush hour.
According to Honolulu Police Department spokesperson Michelle Yu, a man called 911 shortly before 6 a.m. claiming there was a bomb at Circuit Court.
State Sheriff Shawn Tsuha confirmed the caller "described a package and a detonation time for 12 o'clock."
H.P.D. officers and deputy sheriff's immediately began searching the area. According to Sheriff Tsuha nothing was detected during their initial response, but during a second sweep deputy sheriff's discovered a suspicious package up against the Circuit Court building. Yu described it as "an unclaimed bag that was left in a planter box".
Officials say the court and neighboring buildings – including the Voyager School nearby – were all evacuated immediately and H.P.D.'s Special Services Division Bomb Squad was sent in.
"They have technical means – the robot is one of them – and it's the best device to do an assessment besides a K9 team to see what type of device that is without exposing a human to the threat of a detonation," described Sheriff Tsuha.
Officials say a "water cannon" was among the devices used to assess the package, which they attempted to detonate twice. Eyewitnesses reported hearing an explosion around 10 a.m. According to Yu, the bomb squad "rendered the bag safe at the scene".
Sheriff Tsuha says no explosives were found inside the package, but law enforcement sources tell Hawaii News Now they did discover plant fertilizer pellets.
Officials are now saying there was never any real threat, but they weren't taking any chances with the public's safety.
"In the wake of what's happened in Boston and globally – it's a shame that something like this has to happen – or we got to take the precautions to prevent tragedy," said Richard Andaya, who was unable to get to his Circuit Court appointment today.
Streets were reopened around 11 a.m. and employees were allowed to return to work at neighboring businesses. Officials conducted an interior sweep of the Circuit Court before re-opening at 1 p.m. The Federal Courthouse across the street remained closed for the day, but according to the U.S. Marshals Service, business was scheduled to resume Friday morning.