WAIMEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - After an hours-long investigation, a military bomb squad on Tuesday evening determined a device strapped to a car in Waimea was a hoax.
The bomb squad, the FBI and police had responded to a Big Island tow yard on Tuesday afternoon, after the tow yard's owner found a suspected pipe bomb strapped to a car's front front bumper.
Sources tell Hawaii News Now the threat could be politically motivated.
Residents within 300 meters of the Tow Guys yard were evacuated Tuesday, as police investigated.
"The police walked up to my front door and told me that there is an evacuation going on because there's a potential bomb threat in tow guys base yard," said Nani Waimea Street resident Jacob Alip.
Police wouldn't say whether the case is related to the so-called "Freedom Ride" in Hilo on Saturday, but sources said the car was towed from the event.
"Freedom Ride" participants argued they have a constitutional right to drive without licenses, insurance, and vehicle registrations.
University of Hawaii Law professor Kenneth Lawson said this is a tactic that has been going on for over a century but they never hold up in court.
"The Supreme Court has ruled on this since 1915 and has basically said when it comes down to neutral laws like getting a driver's license, safety requirements, paying registration, these laws apply to everybody," Lawson said.
Shortly after the ride got underway in downtown Hilo on Saturday, police pulled the participants over. Two cars were towed and three men were arrested.
One car was taken to the Tow Guys on Kauakea Street in Waimea.
The device, with wires coming out of it, was found by Tow Guys owner David McCollough on Tuesday.
McCollough said he got a call Tuesday morning from a man who said he was the registered owner of the car.
The man told him to take a close look at the car. That's when McCollough found what appeared to be a pipe bomb.
"As I'm looking at his front license plate where it should have been, I noticed a long cylindrical PVC tube bolted underneath his front bumper with straps. About five inches round, about two-and-a-half-feet long, it had two electrical connections to it, a positive and a negative," said McCollough.
McCollough said he called police right after discovering the device.