Law enforcement officials detonated a suspicious package at the Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building on Alamo Plaza late Wednesday afternoon after San Antonio Police Department officers cordoned off the surrounding streets, alleys, and parking lots.

A sequence of small explosions were heard around 5 p.m., culminating in an officer seen placing a final charge that detonated what appeared to be a cardboard box that appeared to be filled with clothing and paper.

The box was detonated outside the South Alamo Street entrance to the U.S. Post Office. Afterwards, debris littered the block, which like many others around the plaza, was closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The San Antonio Express-News cited law enforcement sources as saying that three foreign nationals were trying to mail a suspicious package at the post office inside the building. Law enforcement officers called to the scene detonated the package.

George Calero, an El Paso physician who works for the U.S. Department of Defense, was staying at Hotel Indigo across the street from the federal building.

“I looked out my window on the fourth floor and saw all these ambulances and flashing lights,” Calero said. “They took a rope and tied this package about three feet wide and two feet high. They pulled the package from inside the building and put it on the landing of the steps.”

Officials made three unsuccessful attempts to detonate the package, he said.

“Then, on the fourth time, they positioned it again and hit it with a bigger explosion – That did it,” Calero said. “It looked like clothing and books and pages, a lot of paper.”

SAPD officials said federal authorities had taken over the case.

“In an abundance of caution, San Antonio Police Department Bomb Squad rendered the package safe through a controlled detonation,” Special Agent Michelle Lee,  media coordinator for the San Antonio FBI, told the Rivard Report in an email. “[The] FBI remains on scene.”

Downtown office workers, hotel guests, and pedestrians drawn to the flashing emergency lights were kept back by police officers, who offered no information about the situation. In the event of a real emergency, it appears there is no system in place for delivering real-time information to people in the densely-populated downtown area.

Willa Rubin, 20, was on her way to visit a friend in the San Antonio Express-News building with her mother and tried to cross Houston Street near the Alamo when police stopped them.

“Families were being stopped and redirected,” Rubin said. “We came upstairs and we’re sitting, and then there was this really loud noise and a vibration.”

“The area was secured, streets were closed off to traffic and visitors, staff and other individuals were escorted to secure areas for their safety,” Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said in a Wednesday evening statement. “Securing the Shrine of Texas Liberty and those who visit it is a top priority and we continue to work with our partners to protect the site.”

Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is co-founder and columnist at the San Antonio Report.

Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...