A federal law enforcement officer walking near the entrance of the Nassau Inn noticed an unattended bag near a structural support to the building just before 6 p.m toight. The officer checked the area for an owner and learned that the luggage piece had been left unattended for more than an hour. Witnesses had not seen anyone leave the item and an owner could not be located. Surveillance footage was checked and inconclusive to when the package was left or who left the package.
Upon notification to the Princeton Police, officers continued unsuccessfully to check the area for an owner. While the investigation continued, the area immediately surrounding the object was restricted. A canine unit from the New Jersey State Police was requested to assist at the scene. In consultation with the state police, investigators raised the level of the package from unattended to suspicious given the proximity to the hotel and an eatery near the location and the fact the bag had been unattended for so long.
The state police then requested explosive technicians respond to the scene to examine the package and Palmer Square East was closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic at 6:18 pm. Explosive technicians arrived on scene at approximately 7:02 pm and examined the package from a distance. They ordered an immediate and full evacuation of all Palmer Square East buildings including restaurants, stores and the Nassau Inn before they would be able to examine the package.
The evacuation was done in conjunction with Palmer Square Management and the management staff of the Nassau Inn. The evacuation was completed by 7:30pm. By 8:22pm the bag was deemed safe. The area was immediately reopened to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic as well as occupants of the building. The bag belonged to a customer at the Nassau Inn who has not been located at this time.
The scare marks the third time in less than a week that officials have had to do a search in the Princeton area for potential explosives. Princeton University received a bomb threat, and Montgomery High School also had a bomb scare this week.