WASHINGTON – A bomb squad safely destroyed a pressure cooker found in an unattended vehicle parked on the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol and the vehicle's owner was found and arrested, a U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman said.
Police Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider told The Associated Press that Capitol Police officers on routine patrol spotted the parked, unoccupied vehicle on a street on the mall west of the Capitol around 5 p.m. Sunday.
"Further investigation revealed a pressure cooker, and an odor of gasoline was detected," Schneider said, adding a Capitol Police bomb squad was called in because the vehicle was deemed "suspicious in nature."
Authorities have noted that pressure cookers have been used in the past to create explosive devices. Three people were killed and more than 260 others wounded in April 2013 when two pressure-cooker bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Schneider said the bomb squad destroyed "items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker" Sunday around 7:45 p.m. after temporarily closing off the area on the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. She did not immediately identify the other items but said only that "this safe disruption produced a loud bang."
Schneider also said a follow-up search of the vehicle found nothing hazardous. Her email said the suspicious vehicle was investigated during a concert in Washington though it was unclear how many people were nearby at the time.
The vehicle's owner was found and identified as Israel Shimeles of the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, Schneider said. Shimeles was arrested and charged with "operating after revocation," Schneider said. Schneider didn't elaborate on the charge. It wasn't immediately known if he had an attorney.
Schneider also said the city's Metropolitan Police, U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force were assisting Capitol Police.
The FBI did not immediately return a call for comment late Sunday.