Scary moments at a suburban Littleton shopping center on Tuesday afternoon when police responded to a call that an active pipe bomb was on the ground behind the Safeway at South Broadway and West Mineral Avenue.
The bomb had a timer on it, but the timer was broken. Littleton police say that although the bomb was live, it may have failed because of it.
It is not known how much damage the bomb would have caused if it had exploded. But the mall — which has a Safeway, pet store, hardware store, massage parlor, and several restaurants — is usually busy during the day.
Police received the call at 12:36 p.m. from a contractor who worked at Safeway and found the bomb while carrying out an inspection. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad brought in a robot and two bomb-sniffing dogs to help recover the device.
The area was cordoned off and several law enforcement vehicles kept watch during the tense moments as a robot the size of a go-cart scoured the rear loading area of the Safeway and located the bomb. Two of Arapahoe County’s bomb-sniffing dogs, Rex and Nuke, assisted in the search, and the device eventually detonated at a separate location.
Littleton Police spokeswoman Sheera Poelman said surveillance footage of the building, which is trained on the rear loading dock, should help police find who planted the bomb there and when. They hope that a church, which adjoins the mall, also has cameras.
Poelman said that due to the size and structure of the building and the location of the bomb, the Safeway and an adjacent gas station were not evacuated. People filled up their cars and shopped as the operation unfolded.
The whole incident, from when the police got the call to when they detonated the bomb, lasted about two hours.