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Broadway closed for hours due to suspicious suitcase

Posted on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 10:14 am

An Orange County bomb squad robot inspects and removes a suspicious suitcase Friday morning near Makinson’s Hardware. It was later detonated. News-Gazette Photo/Martin Maddock

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer

An individual who said he left a suitcase with a bomb by a downtown Kissimmee propane tank caused about five blocks of Broadway Avenue to be shut down and evacuated for over three hours this morning.

That person is be questioned by Kissimmee Police Department detectives, KPD spokesperson Stacie Miller said.

Police evacuated businesses along Broadway and Church Street, including the Osceola News-Gazette, at around 10 a.m. this morning in connection to the suspicious case, a black suitcase.

Police closed off Broadway between Neptune Road and Ruby Avenue, Church Street between Dakin and Monument Avenues and all side streets in between. All roads re-opened just after 1:30 p.m.

“It’s a pretty big deal to shut down that many roads for (over) three hours,” Miller said. “When someone tells you they have a bomb and put it under a propane tank, we take it very seriously.”

She said a citizen reported the suspect acting erratically to police this morning, and the person told an officer he put a bomb in the suitcase under the propane tank near Makinson’s Hardware at Dakin and Broadway. Detectives took the individual in for questioning.

Orange County bomb squad technicians arrived around 11 a.m., and used a robot to inspect, then move the suitcase into the street away from the tank. It was detonated around 12:30 p.m. without incident — aside from a loud boom. Witnesses said it was full of clothes and papers.

KPD identified the suspect as Jacob A. Ortiz, 20. He was arrested and charged with making false report of a bomb and transported to the Osceola County Jail.

The shutdown lasted into the lunch hour, to the dismay of Broadway restaurant owners. David Morales runs Hatfield’s Bar and Grill at Broadway and Darlington and said with “everything” going on, the last few weeks have been rough for his business.

Morales, who also runs a jewelry store a few doors down from the restaurant, said he’s been wary of the propane tanks right next to Broadway and Dakin.

“I’ve always thought those tanks were a possible target,” he said.