Florida Hospital Flagler starts evacuations due to ‘suspicious package’
When a man left a briefcase in the nurses’ station of the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House behind Florida Hospital Flagler, employees found it suspicious.
The hospital began evacuation procedures, and the briefcase’s contents were revealed to be harmless after Florida Hospital Flagler Chief Medical Officer Mark Kilman — against the advice of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office — took it into an open field and opened it, according to a deputy’s report.
An arriving deputy was met by a hospital security employee who said nurses had said a man had walked into the nurses’ station, “slammed” the briefcase onto a counter and walked out. It had looked like he was shielding his face, and when one of the nurses asked him if he needed help with anything, he said, “No,” and left.
A sheet of paper taped to the briefcase said “For Christopher Sims,” who was power of attorney for a patient who died that morning. Something in the briefcase “began to play music” shortly after the man left.
Hospice notified the hospital, which began evacuations.
The deputy got contact information for the dead man’s sister, who told the deputy by telephone that her husband had dropped off the briefcase for Sims and that it contained important paperwork regarding her deceased brother.
She also said that she’d spoken with another deputy two days before and had mentioned that she’d be dropping off items at the hospital concerning her brother. The deputy at the scene found a record of the call, with a note in corroborating the woman’s statement. The deputy later reported that the woman was irate and yelled.
The deputy told the hospital’s administration, which called off the evacuation.
Kilman then took the briefcase into a field and opened it. Florida Hospital Flagler declined to comment on the incident.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mark Strobridge said deputies had updated the hospital’s staff as the investigation was underway. He noted that the Sheriff’s Office itself hadn’t determined that there was a threat — the hospital had called to report a suspicious briefcase. “There was never any insinuation of threat,” he said.
However, in this kind of situation, he said, “We always recommend that a bomb squad come in and move it.” He added: “We advised them early on that if they chose not to move the package themselves, that we would certainly call a bomb squad. ... As the property owner, those things become their choice.”