A Virginia man who triggered a bomb scare on Sunday near the U.S. Capitol apologized and explained the suspicious device was a pressure cooker used for his food truck business, local news reported on Monday.
Authorities on Sunday blew up the pressure cooker found in a suspicious, unattended vehicle parked near the Capitol minutes before the National Memorial Day Concert, where thousands of people were in attendance.
Pressure cooker bombs were used to kill three people and injured more than 250 others at the Boston Marathon in April 2013.
U.S. Capitol Police officers on routine patrol found the suspicious vehicle around 5 p.m. on 3rd Street across from the Capitol’s West Lawn where the concert was held, Lieutenant Kimberly Schneider said on Monday.
Police found the pressure cooker and a propane tank. They also reported a strong odor of gasoline, Schneider said.
A police bomb squad closed the street between Independence and Constitution Avenues and destroyed the pressure cooker around 7:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the concert began, Schneider added.
People attending the concert could hear the explosion, the Washington Post reported.
A subsequent investigation found nothing hazardous, but the vehicle’s owner, Israel Shimeles of the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle after his license had been revoked.
Shimeles told local media on Monday he operated a food truck and the pressure cooker was for cooking rice. He apologized for the incident and for delaying crowds trying to attend the concert.
“I should have thought about it a little bit more,” Shimeles told the NBC Washington affiliate. “You know, if I had to do it again, absolutely I would have been a little more careful.”
(Reporting by John Clarke in Washington and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Cooney)