NEW ORLEANS — Bomb technicians were working Wednesday to neutralize a suspicious device found in a park near one of Louisiana's largest universities while authorities investigated a second suspicious package in a nearby parking garage.
Residents near the University of Louisiana at Lafayette were warned that they might hear a controlled explosion as technicians worked to make the device in the park safe, according to a Louisiana State Police news release. Authorities were also examining a second suspicious package found in a parking garage.
Classes and other activities were canceled for the day. The area around the park, including the 1,500-acre campus, was blocked off as a precaution.
"We are systematically evacuating students as quickly as possible," said an update on the university's website.
Trooper Brooks David said the first device was found in a trash can in the park. He said he did not know how it was being neutralized or what either item looked like.
Letitia Walker, news director at KATC-TV, said the station's morning producer received a phone call at around 5:30 a.m. that a bomb had been placed in a white trash can at Girard Park and that a second device had been placed on the university campus. Walker said the station immediately notified police.
"I just rode my bike to work and the whole park's surrounded by police," Tim Broussard, an employee at nearby Renaissance Market, said about 9:30 a.m. "It's normally a very quiet, peaceful place — people walking, jogging, playing tennis, swimming."
A university tweet posted at about 7 a.m., told staff and students to stay away or remain in on-campus apartments. The university about 125 miles west of New Orleans has nearly 18,000 students.
About 5,500 are enrolled in summer school and 400 incoming freshmen were scheduled to start orientation Wednesday, said university spokeswoman Kathleen Thames. She said about 500 of the summer school students and 150 freshmen were staying on campus.
The school used its emergency notification system to reach staff and students on personal communication devices.