What started as a clever way to play up the latest Marvel superhero picture — Thor, for those of you who’ve never stepped foot in The Android’s Dungeon — wound up triggering a bomb scare in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan — right in front of our office — earlier this afternoon.
So, how’d this excitement come to pass? Earlier this week, we received a large, ungainly package from Acura’s ad agency, which contained a large black box billed as an agent test kit for the “Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division“ (spoiler alert: S.H.I.E.L.D is the government agency charged with investigating Thor’s arrival on earth).
Inside, a number of “tests” — including one that required the user to reanimate a (fake) scorpion with a sugar cube — were designed to be clever — if not somewhat nerdy — ways to incite a laugh, and inscribe Thor into our memory banks. We found the execution odd, what with the fake toggle switches, vial of blue fluid, and one test that referenced detonation, but chuckled, and sent it into our recycle bin. It, along with other recyclables, were collected and placed at the corner of Fourth and William, where they sat for two days before our collection company picked them up.
We’d forgotten about the box until this afternoon, when we noticed growing commotion from down below.
Police began diverting traffic away from Fourth Avenue shortly after 1:00 pm, and directed pedestrians away from the area (interestingly, our building was never evacuated nor notified of the going-ons below).
Early reports suggested a suspicious package had been found at the post office across the street, but as details continued to make their way upstairs, we’d heard said package was actually found on the west side of Fourth Avenue. In the mean time, the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals, and the Michigan State Police made their way beneath our windowsills.
That sparked a memory, prompting us to run again to our windows. Most of the recyclables were gone, but for some reason, the Thor box, with Acura and Thor logos (and “In Theatres May 6″) plainly visible for the world to see, was still sitting at the curb. Was this novelty causing all the excitement?
Yep. Turns out a passerby spotted the box, its unusual switchgear and the word “detonation,” and pointed it out to a police officer. Thanks to a bomb threat that had apparently been phoned into the bus station down the street, all hands were promptly called to deck.
Associate editor Eric Tingwall placed a call into the AAPD, and promptly identified the package as being nothing more dangerous than press materials and cheesy jokes. Bomb squad technicians — dressed to the nines in Kevlar — quickly moved in, scanned the box, and issued the all-clear shortly after 2:15 p.m.
All’s well that ends well, but one thing’s for certain: we’ll be keeping a little closer eye on our recycling service’s pick up performance from now on.