Lawnside, NJ Mayor Targeted in Bomb Hoax - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Lawnside, NJ Mayor Targeted in Bomb Hoax

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Members of the Camden County Squad stand outside of the Lawnside municipal building Thursday. Members of the Camden County Squad stand outside of the Lawnside municipal building Thursday.
Lawnside, NJ -

The FBI is investigating who could be targeting the mayor of Lawnside, NJ. Someone built a device designed to look like a bomb, addressed it to the mayor, and then left it inside the municipal building. Camden County investigators say whoever built the device filled two pipes with screws and attacked two flares to it, but they say the flares could not have detonated.

Business screeched to a halt inside Lawnside's Municipal building at 8:20 Thursday morning, when the elevator door opened. A "borough employee of our municipal court was entering the elevator and found a suspicious package on the floor of the elevator," Lt. Lloyd Lewis of the Lawnside Police Department told Fox 29.

A package clearly intended to look like a bomb. It was placed inside a "clear plastic zip-lock bag with metal pipes duct-taped together with a timing device on top of it," Lt. Lewis said. "And it was addressed to the mayor of the borough of Lawnside."

Mayor Mary Ann Wardlaw, who is 65, was not in the building at the time. A bomb squad from Camden County worked more than two hours to disable the device, sending in a robot to detonate it inside the elevator. But "one or I believe two of the remaining pipes did not detonate along with the initial explosion."

So the robot removed the device, and after a couple more explosions, the bomb squad destroyed it. No one was injured. But all business ground to a halt, on a day when municipal court had been scheduled. As for the motive? "We think that this, in light of some of the other things that are taking place around the country, just may be one of those random incidents," Morris Smith, Lawnside Borough's lawyer, told Fox 29. "So I don't think we should read any more into it than that at this time."

But several Lawnside residents told Fox 29 Mayor Wardlow does have enemies. Those critics wouldn't talk on camera. They say they fear retribution if they do. They say the Democrat did not earn admiration after one particular incident at a polling place in November, 2009. It was election day, and Wardlaw called to complain that a black man with dreadlocks was harassing voters. It turned out the man was a Republican candidate for council. He sued, and according to a published report, Mayor Wardlaw settled out of court in October 2012. Fox 29 went to Wardlow's home, but could not reach her for comment.

There is no evidence that the 2009 incident played any role whatsoever in the bomb scare.

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