Bomb search forces Bridgeport evacuation

BRIDGEPORT – Residents of Presidential Estates in Bridgeport were evacuated Wednesday evening as the bomb squad from Allegheny County, Pa., and the FBI investigated the home of Thomas Piccard.

Piccard fired multiple shots in the Federal Building and the YMCA in Wheeling Wednesday afternoon before being shot and killed during the incident.

Two hours after the shooting occurred, residents of Presidential Estates were evacuated. Residents were not allowed back into their homes until nearly 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Belmont County Sheriff’s deputies and Bridgeport Police Department blocked the entrance to Presidential Estates.

One resident said he was watching television when a call from “Red Alert” came across his caller identification.

“I thought it was a telemarketer,” he said.

The call, however, was an automated notification telling residents they needed to evacuate immediately. Residents were not told why they were being evacuated or given a specific location to which to relocate.

The resident noted there is only one way in and out of the housing addition – a bridge on Brockview Drive over Wheeling Creek.

Many residents drove their vehicles to the high school parking lot as the bomb squad and FBI searched Piccard’s home. Access to the addition was limited, with a barricade of emergency vehicles limiting access at the Adams Drive entrance. A resident said Piccard lived on Johnson Street in the middle of the addition.

FBI Special Agent Bob Johnson said the bomb squad was called in as a precautionary measure.

The Salvation Army Canteen and the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) were there providing coffee and food.

Bridgeport High School, which is located across from Presidential Estates, was open to the evacuated residents.

“We were here assisting local law enforcement agencies,” said Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas. “I would like to thank the Salvation Army Canteen and Dave Ivan from the EMA for being here. Also, a thanks goes out to Ted Downing and Ed Minor for opening the school up to residents.”

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