CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - The discovery of a pipe bomb in a residential Cedar Falls neighborhood ended safety with a small, controlled "bang" Tuesday. But not before authorities had to evacuate several square blocks for most of the day.
Police say city workers found the homemade explosive in a storm sewer under a manhole in the 2300 block of Royal Drive just north of the College Square Mall in Cedar Falls. Workers who saw the plastic pipe inside the manhole, pulled it out and then quickly got help.
Several neighbors said they had watched coverage of the bombing at the Boston Marathon Monday and then found themselves caught up in their own situation just a day later.
Margaret Woodward, who lives just a couple of homes away from the discovery, said the coincidence was just eerie. "I was very uneasy this morning after yesterday and feel we're not safe anywhere. And this has been a safe neighborhood forever," Woodward said.
Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson said "copycat" events are something you watch for after any big incident like the bombings in Boston. But he has no reason to believe the events have any connection. It is possible the pipe bomb discovered Tuesday was put inside the storm sewer a long time ago.
Cedar Falls called for help from a bomb squad in Waterloo. Officers in protective gear, as well as a robot, studied the device and eventually placed it behind a wall of sandbags. There it was successfully detonated with a controlled explosive device and rendered harmless.
Chief Olson later praised the city workers for how they handled the discovery. "They see something down there, pick it up take a look and decide it's suspicious drop it gently and give us a call," the chief said.
The chief said authorities combed the area for any more devices and found none. Residents were allowed back into their homes just after 4:30 p.m.
Now authorities say the next step is to figure out who did it and why.