Abandoned backpack triggers fair bomb scare

Just as the Island County Fair had settled back into its routine after a fatal carnival accident the day before, a bomb scare brought more police lines and tension to the fairgrounds Sunday.

According to the Island County Sheriff's Office, a fairgoer found a suspicious backpack left unattended near the fair's main stage at about 5 p.m. and reported it to law enforcement. Upon closer examination, sheriff's personnel decided that the backpack was a potential threat based on a slogan printed on its exterior. The words read: "You will not silence my message; You will not mock my god; You will stop killing my generation."

Jan Smith, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said law enforcement chose to play it safe upon finding the bag and closed down entertainment for about an hour and pushed the crowd back away from the pack.

However, the sheriff's office did not need to call in a bomb squad to investigate; the pack's owner eventually came to the main stage to retrieve it. He opened the pack for law enforcement, showing officers that it contained only school materials.

He was taken away by sheriff's deputies for questioning and, as of Monday, the pack was still in the custody of the sheriff's office.

Smith said the pack's owner was released Sunday.

"It didn't appear to be left intentionally," she said.

Darin Reid, chief of operations for Fire District 3, assisted in the investigation and in keeping bystanders away from the pack. He said the actions taking by law enforcement were justified.

"We tried to protect the public but not overreact," he said.

The incident marked the second time in two days law enforcement had to set up cordons to protect an investigation scene.

Entertainment resumed after the scare incident was resolved. The fair closed shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, as scheduled.

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