ITHACA, N.Y. — The Ithaca Police Department Headquarters at 120 E. Clinton St. was evacuated Saturday afternoon after a pipe bomb scare right outside the main lobby.

Police said a man walked into the entryway of the headquarters around 4:40 p.m. and used a phone attached to the wall to tell a Tompkins County dispatcher that he’d found a device that looked like a pipe bomb no more than a block away, and had carried it with him to the building.

A nearby police officer was able to quickly respond and talked the man out of the entryway and across the street. A custodian, the only person in the building at the time, was also evacuated.

“It appeared like it might actually be a pipe bomb,” IPD Sergeant Mike Gray said.

He said the person who took the device to IPD quickly realized that the more appropriate thing to do would have been to call police to where he found the item and added that the man didn’t appear to have meant any harm.

The nearby roadway was blocked off for about two hours while police investigated the scene.

In response to the device, the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, Ithaca Fire Department, and Bangs Ambulance responded to the area along with IPD officers. The  Endicott Bomb Squad was also gearing up to respond to IPD headquarters, but the item turned out not to be a bomb after all.

Gray said an officer was able to take photos of the device and determine that despite looking very much like a pipe bomb – made of PVC pipe with wires attached – it was not dangerous.

Upon further investigation, Gray said, police were able to make contact with the person who made the device.

“It was acting as some sort of transmitter device that somebody had stuck in their ground at their residence,” he said, adding that it was a  like a makeshift antenna.

Neither of the people involved will likely face any charges.

“Yeah, it was a very unusual situation,” he said.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.