First Responders

ATF and Philadelphia Police Responded to a Van With Possible Explosives and Arson Supplies

October 29, 2020Joshua Skovlund

Police established a perimeter around the suspicious van. Photo courtesy of Dann Cuellar/Twitter.

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Arson and Explosives Task Force responded along with the Philadelphia Police Department to a suspicious van with possible explosive devices inside, according to ATF Special Agent Robert Cucinotta. 

The van was located off of Logan Circle in the Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Center City is the site of such historical icons as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. 

Due to the ongoing investigation, the ATF declined to speak further on the incident. 

Police evaluating the van and its contents. Screenshot from YouTube.

The van was found on the first night of a citywide curfew lasting from 9 p.m. on Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. The curfew was set in response to the widespread civil unrest in the city since the police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on Monday. 

According to ABC7 News, police officers reportedly recovered propane tanks, torches, and possible sticks of dynamite from the van.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said during a press conference on Wednesday that further information on the incident will be released after Wallace’s family has been able to see all the available evidence. 

A close-up of some of the contents within the van. Screenshot from YouTube.

Outlaw also said during the press conference that “the widespread lawlessness” has nothing to do with protesting and that “this behavior is not acceptable” and will not be tolerated. 

Throughout Wednesday, Philadelphia police arrested 81 people on various charges such as burglary, assaulting a police officer, or arson. Outlaw said there were 297 reported incidents of looting and nine reports of damaged or destroyed vehicles. 

During the violence on Tuesday night, 23 officers were injured by thrown projectiles like rocks and bricks. Outlaw said that all of the officers have been treated and released from the hospital. She noted that several officers had a bloodlike substance thrown on them. 

The Philadelphia Police Department did not respond to requests for more information at the time of publication. 

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.

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