LINCOLN -- A suspicious package found Wednesday morning outside of U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer's Lincoln office turned out to be a bag of trash.
But Bill Moody, chief bomb squad investigator with the Lincoln Fire Department, said even though it was a false alarm, he's glad people are being vigilant in light of Monday's bombing in Boston and Tuesday's discovery of a ricin-laced envelope in Washington, D.C.
“Anytime there's a major incident in the country, people become more aware and call us,” Moody said. “We'd rather they do that than not do that.”
Also Wednesday morning, Capitol Police in Washington were investigating a suspicious package in the Hart Office Building. Sens. Fischer, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, all have offices in that building.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel also is testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday morning in a hearing room in the Hart Building.
Staffers at Fischer's Lincoln office called police about 8:45 a.m. to report a suspicious bag on a chair just below the U.S. Senate emblem outside the office, in Lincoln's Haymarket district.
Phillip Romberg, a Fischer staffer in Lincoln, said the staff has a heightened sense of concern following confirmation that an envelope mailed to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., in Washington tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison.
Lincoln police and fire personnel blocked off the street for about 15 to 20 minutes. Moody said other occupants of the building reported seeing the bag a day earlier.
He said the bag contained a couple of orange envelopes, like those used for photographs, taped together, along with a metal cylinder can the size of an oil filter.
Bomb squad personnel removed the bag and concluded it was someone's trash, Moody said.
Both the Lincoln and D.C. offices were given the all-clear by 12 p.m. Central time.
Joe Hack, a Fischer spokesman in Washington, said staffers acted appropriately, even if it was a false alarm.
“Given everything that's gone on this week, you always want to proceed with an abundance of caution,” Hack said.
World-Herald staff writer Joseph Morton contributed to this report.