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Clearwater Beach motel rooms evacuated as bomb squad checks suspicious car

Authorities investigate a suspicious device Thursday afternoon in a vehicle parked in the 200 block of Hamden Drive on Clearwater Beach.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Authorities investigate a suspicious device Thursday afternoon in a vehicle parked in the 200 block of Hamden Drive on Clearwater Beach.

CLEARWATER — The Tampa Police Department's bomb squad was summoned to Clearwater Beach Thursday morning after a motel owner called authorities about a car with suspicious-looking materials inside near her business.

After several hours spent inspecting the vehicle — including forays by a bomb-disposal robot and a police officer in a blast suit — officials determined that the strange items in the car were "unusual electric equipment," Clearwater public safety spokesperson Elizabeth Watts said.

Linda Christman, owner of the Golden Villa Motel at 225 Coronado Dr., said she called police at 8 a.m. when she found the car abandoned in the motel's parking lot.

She said she was wary after a recent meeting where Clearwater police Chief Tony Holloway urged business owners to be on the lookout for suspicious activity in the run-up to the Republican National Convention later this month.

"He said, 'If you see anything, if you hear anything, suspicious, call the police.' And I did," she said.

Police determined that the vehicle was stolen from Pasco County, Watts said.

During the search, seven nearby hotel rooms were evacuated and adjacent blocks of Hamden Drive and 3rd Street were closed to traffic.

Peter Jamison can be reached at pjamison@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4157.

Clearwater Beach motel rooms evacuated as bomb squad checks suspicious car 08/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 8:38pm]
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