UPDATE at 7 p.m.: The Falls Church City Hall was declared “all clear” at 6:55 p.m. tonight following a three-hour evacuation and shutdown while detectives from the Arlington Police Bomb Squad determined that a suspicious package was not a bomb as feared. According to Susan Finarelli, communications director for the City, the package turned out to be a training devise used in the training of bomb-sniffing dogs and is not believed to have been left unattended at City Hall with any malicious intent.
Falls Church City Hall was declared “all clear” at 6:55 p.m. Monday night after a suspicious package caused a three-hour evacuation and shutdown of the building and adjacent Community Center. Detectives from the Arlington Police Bomb Squad determined the package was not a threat and was instead a device used in for training bomb-sniffing dogs, according to F.C. spokesperson Susan Finarelli. The device was not believed to have been left unattended at City Hall with any malicious intent.
During the shutdown, a source inside the Community Center who did not want to be named told the News-Press that a group of around 50 people including parents, children and community center staff are currently sheltering in place while the situation is being investigated.
The source said they arrived at the community center at around 5:30 p.m. for one of the center’s classes. The source said that they received an e-mail from the Falls Church’s Recreation and Parks department at 5:15 p.m. that the community center was still open and events would still be held as scheduled despite the blockage of the community center parking lot and drive-up entrance. But soon after the source arrived at the community center, they, along with other community center patrons, were taken into two classrooms, and later the gymnasium, to shelter in place.
According to the source, a police officer came and told the group of people inside of the community center that the police are currently trying to figure out a way to evacuate everyone inside the building. According to the City, the Planning Commission, City Council/School Board Liaison Working Group and regular City Council meetings that were scheduled for Monday night at City Hall at 300 Park Ave. are cancelled and all community center events are cancelled.
The Falls Church Police Department shut down two blocks of Little Falls Street and Park Avenue, which surround City Hall and the community center, while the investigation was taking place.