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Bogus bomb triggers evacuation of homes

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000

BRANDON -- About 40 homes were evacuated Tuesday morning after a county worker found a 2-foot-long PVC pipe with wires attached to a battery.

Nearly six hours later, a Hillsborough Sheriff's Office bomb squad concluded the pipe was not a bomb, but a device made to look like one.

Robert Helms, a 12-year employee of the county's water department, discovered the device while working in the dried-up retention pond behind the 800 block of Windsor Circle.

He called 911 at 9:44 a.m.

Homes were evacuated, and nearby Limona Elementary School moved about 150 students into the media center and cafeteria as a precaution.

Limona students who normally walk or ride their bicycles had to take a bus or wait for their parents to pick them up.

Investigators don't know who built the fake bomb or why. Neither did neighbors such as 50-year-old Jean Hiller.

"All the kids in the neighborhood, we know them, we've never had a problem from them," Hiller said. "Who would think of making something like that?"

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