A guard who works at the federal courts complex in the 900 block of Front Street came across a homeless man and his bags of possessions in an adjacent open grassy area shortly before 10 a.m. and asked him to move on, said Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The drifter, who didn’t want to leave, casually mentioned that he supposedly had an explosive device among his things. The comment did not come across as a threat, Luque said.
Authorities cleared people out of a nearby restaurant and some offices, and directed employees in parts of the courthouse facing the park to move to other sections of the building while a bomb squad investigated.
An ordinance technician in body armor took X-ray photos of the transient’s bags, finding a roughly 18-inch tube inside one of them. Though it had something resembling a fuse attached to one end, the cylinder was empty.
Emergency crews gave an all-clear about 11:15 a.m., Luque said.
Due to his behavior while interacting with authorities, the homeless man was taken to a county psychiatric hospital for an evaluation of his mental state.