The Cook County bomb squad removed a suitcase full of dynamite from an Evergreen Park resident’s home, putting schools on lockdown and evacuating nearby neighbors’ homes on Wednesday morning.
Police said that a caretaker came upon the suitcase while cleaning her 93-year-old client's basement after some water damage in the 9700 block of South Hamlin Avenue.
"He told her to be careful of the suitcase because there was dynamite inside of it," said Lt. Peter Donovan, spokesman for the Evergreen Park Police Department. "He asked her to throw it out."
The caretaker carried the suitcase outside into the back yard and called 911 about 10:12 a.m.
When Evergreen Park police arrived on the scene, they discovered a cardboard box inside the suitcase marked "explosives." Police evacuated neighbors from houses adjacent and behind the 93-year-old man’s home and notified area schools.
A reverse 911 message was sent to the area of W. 95th St. to W. 99th St. from South Pulaski Avenue to South Central Park Avenue asking residents to remain in their homes, Donovan said.
The Cook County Bomb Squad arrived with a two-man team around 11:12 a.m., along with a police K9. The dog immediately alerted to the presence of explosives in the box and additional Cook County Sheriff Police officers were called to the scene.
The box of explosives was removed from the yard and was taken to the Thornton Quarry, where the dynamite will be destroyed, by detonation or burning, Donovan said.
Fifty pounds of dynamite were found inside the cardboard box, or 24 sticks. The explosives were apparently stored in the elderly man’s basement for the past several decades.
“The 93-year-old gentleman said he got the box 60 years ago from a friend who moved to California,” Donovan said. “The friend has since passed away.”
The yard was cleared of the explosives by 2:20 p.m. Donovan said the elderly man would not be charged.
Donovan did not know if the dynamite was still viable.
“The box still looked nice and clean,” he said.