No injuries after suspicious package reported at Pelham shopping center

Members of the Hoover Police Department bomb squad carry a suitcase off the scene near Pelham's Big Lots store after an off-duty police officer reported the suspicious package on May 28. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Members of the Hoover Police Department bomb squad carry a suitcase off the scene near Pelham’s Big Lots store after an off-duty police officer reported the suspicious package on May 28. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

PELHAM – A suspicious suitcase found in the parking lot surrounding Big Lots and Staples off U.S. 31 in Pelham was found to be empty, according to law enforcement officials on the scene.

The Pelham Police Department received a call at about 1:55 p.m. from an off-duty police officer who reported a suspicious brown suitcase sitting in the parking lot, according to Pelham police officials.

The Pelham Police Department closed the parking lot while members of the Hoover Police Department bomb squad investigated the suitcase, which was found to be empty. The Pelham Fire Department also responded to the scene, and an ambulance was on standby in a nearby parking lot while officers investigated the suitcase.

While officers were investigating the suitcase, no vehicles were allowed to enter or exit the parking lot in front of Staples and Big Lots. The southern half of the shopping center, which is near the Pelham-Alabaster city line, remained open to traffic throughout the incident.

Police loaded the suitcase into a Hoover police vehicle, and reopened the parking lot to the public at about 4 p.m.

“It looks like someone just wanted to get rid of an old suitcase and sat it down in the parking lot,” said Pelham police Capt. Larry Palmer. “I’m tickled to death that it didn’t turn out to be a device. In this day and age, you can never be too careful about these things.”