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Porcelain doll seen near Hagerstown Treatment Center leads to bomb scare

August 22, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- A call for a "suspicious object" outside 217 E. Antietam St. on Thursday morning led Hagerstown City Police to shut down traffic in that block as a precaution.

The object was a black and white porcelain clown doll that witnesses saw sitting on a ledge near the Hagerstown Treatment Center at the corner of King and Antietam streets across the street from Washington County Hospital.

Hagerstown Police, with the help of a police dog, determined that the doll was not harmful and the streets were reopened just before 10 a.m.

Michelle Olson, who lives on Salem Avenue in Hagerstown, said she saw the clown doll sitting on a ledge outside of the treatment center when she arrived at the clinic at 7:45 a.m.

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Fifteen minutes later, Olson said she and everyone else inside the Hagerstown Treatment Center evacuated the building, saying the clown doll was suspicious and could have contained a bomb.

Police said in a release that the clinic was evacuated as part of its own protocol.

Police said they were not called until 8:56 a.m., a police spokesman said.

At some point after evacuating, Olson said the doll fell from the ledge outside the treatment center to the ground. Police dogs also were used to determine whether the clown doll was dangerous.

No bomb was found, and just before 10 a.m. police said the scene was "all clear" and began to reopen Antietam and King streets.

Fire marshals also responded to the scene.

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