A small Wright City apartment complex was evacuated Saturday night for around four hours after a bomb-like device was reported to be inside a parked truck there.
The device was fake, police said.
A 36-year-old man who lived at the complex, located on Westwoods Road between the Wright City Lions Club and St. Charles First Assembly of God Church, was taken into custody and later released, according to Wright City Police Chief Doug Saulters.
Police said the man had tied a fake hand grenade to the steering wheel and also placed a road flare, designed to appear as a stick of dynamite, inside his truck. He also had posted written signs warning anyone of entering the vehicle, police said.
The man told police he set up the fake device after believing someone had stolen his truck the night before, according to Saulters. He said that incident had not been reported to police.
“He told the officers he thought somebody had taken his truck the night before and used it,” Saulters said. “This was an alternative to deter somebody from using it.”
A resident reported the bomb scare a little before 6 p.m. after reading the note and seeing what appeared to be an explosive device inside the truck, police said. Residents in the complex were evacuated and then moved to the nearby Wright City Lions Club.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s bomb squad responded to the scene around 8:30 p.m. An FBI agent also responded to the incident.
Authorities said the residents were allowed to returned to their apartments around 10:15 p.m. once the device was found to be fake.
Saulters said his department will pursue criminal charges against the man in connection with the hoax.
“The officers handled it really well,” he said. “The officers did an excellent job of securing the area and getting residents out of the hazardous zone.”
Wright City Fire Chief Ron MacKnight commented, “Thankfully it was fake and nonexplosive. The agencies worked well together. It goes to show you can’t be complacent. Anything can happen at any time.”