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CITY POLICE PROBE ATM BOMB BLAST


 Spotsylvania Deputy D. J. Schmidt and his bomb-sniffing dog check for other explosives at the Fredericksburg bank.
PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/6/2012

BY KEITH EPPS

Fredericksburg police spent most of the day Wednesday investigating someone's failed attempt to blow up an ATM.

The incident occurred about 4 a.m. outside the Virginia Credit Union at 2150 Gordon Shelton Blvd. in the Celebrate Virginia development.

The ATM had scorch marks and some damage, but was still intact and functioning, police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said.

The explosion also caused minor damage to the drive-through area.

A credit union employee called police shortly after 9 a.m. about the damage. About 15 minutes earlier, a resident who lives in a nearby apartment complex reported hearing an explosion several hours earlier at the credit union to police.

The caller said the blast set off car alarms at the apartments, The Seasons at Celebrate Virginia.

Bledsoe said the woman saw a figure near the credit union, but was too far away to get a good description.

Bank security video later confirmed that some sort of explosive device went off about 4 a.m. The camera showed someone placing a device at the base of the ATM just before it went off.

City police reviewed the video Wednesday and brought in a bomb-detection dog from the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office as part of the ongoing investigation.

The dog at one point indicated that there was something suspicious in the area of the large trash bin behind the bank.

As a safety precaution, the city fire department evacuated the six apartment units closest to the scene. The bank was also evacuated and closed for several hours.

Bomb experts from the Virginia State Police were called to the scene and eventually declared there were no other explosive devices, Bledsoe said. The FBI also assisted in the investigation.

At about 2:15 p.m., residents of the apartments were allowed to return to their homes. The bank is open for business, although

the drive-through remains closed.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call city police at 540/373-3122 or Detective Doug Perkins at 540/654-5758.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
Email: kepps@freelancestar.com