Update: Bomb squad called to A.L. travel center; man taken to hospital for mental evaluation

Published 5:44 am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A police car, fire truck and an ambulance block off the entrance to Trail's Travel Center Tuesday night after a bomb threat. The Bloomington Bomb Squad was called. --Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

ALBERT LEA — A portion of Trail’s Travel Center in Albert Lea was closed for almost four hours Tuesday night after police received a report of a bomb under a car in the parking lot.

Local authorities called the Bloomington Bomb Squad at about 4 p.m. to search a black Ford Crown Victoria parked near McDonald’s, but they didn’t find anything, said Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels.

An area around a parked car at Trail's Travel Center is surrounded by police tape Tuesday after a bomb threat. --Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

A 26-year-old Bloomington man, who was acting suspiciously at the truck stop, was taken into custody and transported to the Albert Lea hospital for a mental health evaluation, Winkels said. The man said he had been in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he thought someone was watching him in McDonald’s.

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Authorities haven’t released the man’s name and don’t expect to file charges, said Police Lt. Jeff Strom.

Winkels said part of the travel center — including the Trail’s Restaurant and the other fast-food restaurants — were evacuated and the gas pumps were closed on the front side of the building.

Officers blocked off the entrance to the parking lot, and cordoned off with police tape an area surrounding the Crown Victoria.

The normal atmosphere at the travel center, at 840 Happy Trails Lane, is almost like an airport for Albert Lea, with travelers of all types coming and going. The center re-opened shortly before 8 p.m., according to Strom.