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Wednesday Night Bomb Scare Closes Le Conte Avenue

Incidents unusual in northside neighborhood, residents say.

A bomb squad surrounded a parked car in Berkeley on Wednesday night after a tip-off by the auto's owner.

The owner told police a former co-worker may have placed an explosive in the vehicle in the 2500 block of Le Conte Avenue, Berkeley police Lt. David Frankel said.

After a dispute with a coworker, the owner came out to the car and heard a ticking noise, and suspected it might be a bomb, Frankel said. Officers arrived around 7:30 p.m., verified a ticking noise coming from the car and called the bomb squad. The street was closed and neighbors were ordered to stay indoors.

The bomb squad eventually determined that the sound was not the ticking of an explosive, but rather a maintenance issue with the car, Frankel said.

Around 9:30 p.m., resident Cliff Block said police with a shelter-in-place order. It was about 2 a.m. when Block received a follow-up call cancelling the alert.

Neighbor Fran Segal arrived in the area around 9 a.m. but found the street closed to all access. She said she returned at 11 p.m., but by that time police had cordoned off an even larger area, including Ridge Road, Euclid Avenue, Virginia Street and La Loma Avenue.

She said she found herself stranded, along with a number of UC Berkeley students barred from reaching their residences. Police eventually let Segal retrieve her car and, around midnight, she called a friend and asked to spend the night.

Block said police activity is unusual in the neighborhood, which he said is often called "Holy Hill" because of the many theological institutes nearby.

-- Bay City News Service

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