13 January 2011 by Cynthia Hodges - Chicago Homeland Security Examiner
On Monday evening a bomb was discovered under the 1-hour photo sign outside of an Orlando, Florida Walgreens store. An alert customer noticed a suspicious box with wires sticking out of it and brought it to the attention of a store employee.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Monday, 911 received a call to report a customer had noticed a suspicious package outside. He said there were no witnesses and there's no surveillance video to help with the investigation.
Upon arrival, investigators realized that the suspicious package was a active explosive with the potential to cause a lot of damage. The bomb, described by a Walgreens employee as the size of a suitcase, was positioned just steps away from a group of propane tanks. GO BACK
After evacuating the entire area, bomb squad experts used a robot to help investigate and blow up the device safely around 9 p.m.
Orange County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Jeff Williamson stated, "It's kinda scary, because this is a fairly quiet neighborhood." Williamson then said, "When I first received the call, they said, 'Jeff this is not a hoax, this is a real device.'"
A Walgreens spokesman told a local TV station that security is often different from one store to another, but he couldn't say why there are no cameras outside this location. A nearby CVS pharmacy reportedly has four security cameras on the outside of the building.
Orange County Sheriff's deputies called in the experts, FBI and ATF, to take the lead in the post-blast investigation. Sheriff's deputies and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are working as a team.
On Tuesday, the manager of a tavern next door to the Walgreens told police that he noticed the device in the store's parking lot on Monday around 1 p.m. when he went to the store for milk. He said that the package caught his eye, but he didn't think anything of it. Neither did any of the customers for at least five hours, when the alert customer spotted the device and finally reported it to a Walgreens manager.
Investigators said what is left of the device was sent to a laboratory to get whatever evidence they can from the fragments.
There are a few red flags in this story. For instance, why wasn't the bomb incident widely reported in the media? Following Saturday's massacre in Arizona, this appears to be more serious than all of the incendiary devices.
The law enforcement community surrounding Disney World -- which some experts believe is the number one terrorist target in the United States -- remains unprepared. Orange County Sheriff's Spokesman Jeff Williamson stated "It's kinda scary" to think a bomb could occur here -- 30 miles from Disney World?
Finally, how could any Walgreens not have cameras in the parking lot for general customer safety, much less terrorist preparedness?
Just one more observation about citizen preparedness in Orlando, Florida. For a minimum of five hours, nobody noticed the suspicious, suitcase-size bomb with wires sticking out of it. The fact that the package was unattended should have been enough to alert law enforcement.