Update, June 5, 9 p.m.: Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats told the Daily Cal that the device turned out to be “some kind of prop used for a fraternity’s costume party.” The device was spotted by a passer-by in a parking lot next to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and an apartment complex.
Update, 3:25 p.m.: At around 1:30 p.m. Lt. Rateaver told Berkeleyside, “The incident at Channing has been terminated with nothing outstanding. Everything is safe.”
Original story, 12:47 p.m.: Police have been on the scene in Berkeley since 10 a.m. Saturday due to a suspicious device at Channing and Piedmont reported by a passer-by, authorities said.
Traffic is closed at north- and southbound Piedmont Avenue, and east- and west-bound Channing Way, as authorities investigate the situation.
Lt. Andrew Rateaver of the Berkeley Police Department said a passer-by reported seeing the suspicious device and said it might be “explosive-related.”
“We have the area cordoned off while we are checking out the device,” he said. “Right now the whole thing is contained.”
He said there had been no threats, but that the Berkeley Police Department’s bomb squad was in the process of x-raying the package to determine its composition.
“We don’t know what it is,” he said. “It looks like some sort of package or device. There’s enough to it that makes us think we should do it by the numbers.”
Rateaver said police had been in the area since 10 a.m. and he didn’t know how much longer the roads would be closed. He said it was lucky that many of the students had already left for the summer, and that it wasn’t a regular weekday when more people would have been nearby.
Berkeleyside staffer Siciliana Trevino said from the scene she was told there were two PVC tubes in a parking lot, and that police sent a robot to explode one of the devices just before 12:40 p.m.
“It was booming,” she said, about the first explosion. Officials on the scene told her they were planning to do the same to the other device.
University of California police and Berkeley firefighters are also on scene.