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St. Petersburg police arrest man in downtown bomb threat

ST. PETERSBURG — Police arrested a homeless man Monday and accused him of leaving a duffel bag — which he said contained a bomb — at the Pinellas County Health Department's downtown office.

The building at 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N was evacuated for nearly four hours Monday until bomb squad technicians determined there were no explosives in the bag.

Later Monday, St. Petersburg police arrested Brian James Russell, 28, on a charge of making a bomb threat.

Police said a man left a black duffel bag near the health department's front door Monday morning. He told people in the area that the bag contained a bomb and that he wanted to commit suicide. Then he walked away.

Police were called about 9:45 a.m. The building was evacuated and traffic routed around the structure until the Tampa Bay Regional Bomb Squad determined there were no explosives at about 1:30 p.m. Identification inside the bag belonged to Russell, police said. Two witnesses also identified Russell as the man who left the bag, police said.

After the bag was left — but before Russell was identified as a suspect — he was arrested by Gulfport police on an unrelated charge. Gulfport police said Russell gave them a false name when they confronted him during a suspicious person call at 27th Avenue S and Tifton Street.

Gulfport police took him to the Pinellas County Jail. After identifying Russell as their suspect, St. Petersburg officers learned he was at the jail and the bomb threat charge was added against him.

He was being held at the Pinellas Jail Monday night, though bail information was not available.

Russell has been previously arrested on charges of drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and marijuana possession.

St. Petersburg police arrest man in downtown bomb threat 03/14/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2011 9:18pm]
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