Area of Cleveland Park Reopened After Bomb Scare

A suspicious vehicle stops traffic near Connecticut Avenue, NW. Authorities also closed the Cleveland Park Metro stop.
A suspicious vehicle stops traffic near Connecticut Avenue, NW. Authorities also closed the Cleveland Park Metro stop. (Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post )
By Debbi Wilgoren and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 13, 2009; 10:18 AM

D.C. police shut down several blocks of Connecticut Avenue NW and the Cleveland Park Metro station for about 2 1/2 hours early this morning to investigate two potentially suspicious vehicles, neither of which was ultimately deemed a threat, officials said.

The Metro station and the road -- a major commuting route into downtown from upper Northwest and Montgomery County -- were reopened by 7:45 a.m.

D.C. police spokeswoman Traci Hughes said police became concerned after finding a parked SUV that was blocking traffic on Connecticut Avenue shortly after 5 a.m. The car's owner could not be located.

Police summoned bomb technicians and dogs trained to detect explosives, and the dogs identified a second vehicle -- a commercial van -- that was nearby on Connecticut Avenue and apparently contained chemicals that smelled suspicious, Hughes said.

"The vehicle's owner was located, and it was determined to be some type of cleaning solution or some type of construction chemical," Hughes said.

The first vehicle -- a Toyota Rav4 -- was also cleared shortly after 7:30 a.m., and Connecticut Avenue was reopened, but police continued to route southbound traffic around the SUV. Hughes said police located its owner by about 9 a.m., and were arranging for the vehicle to be moved so that traffic could return to normal.

The closure of Connecticut Avenue, between Porter Street and Cathedral Avenue just south of the National Zoo, disrupted the early part of the morning commute. Sleepy-eyed office workers were told they could not enter the Cleveland Park station, and Red Line trains did not stop at the station so that passengers could disembark.

Residents trying to fit in some early morning exercise found that the gym in Sam's Park and Shop was not open, and were told they could not access that block of Connecticut even if it was. The Starbucks and other coffee shops along that stretch of Connecticut remained closed as the sky lightened, and their employees gathered in a nearby 7-11 that was outside the security zone to avoid the bitter cold.

Joggers and dog-walkers were told to seek alternate routes.

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