Miami-Dade Police closed Florida’s Turnpike in both directions between Bird Road and Southwest Eighth Street Monday evening after a caller said they had explosives, hostages and two dead people in an apartment near Florida International University.
After about 90 minutes of chaos in the neighborhood — helicopters buzzing, traffic snarled, FIU alerting students to avoid the west side of the campus, and people blocked from entering their homes — police said nothing was found and gave the all clear that everything was safe.
Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said: “We take every threat seriously because our primary concern is the safety of everyone.”
The incident began around 9:15 p.m. when a call came into the Miami Beach Police Department’s non-emergency line.
“The individual said they had explosives and hostages and two dead people,” Zabaleta said. “The caller also said if police responded, he’d blow them up.”
The caller listed the address as 11715 SW 18th St., Zabaleta said.
Miami Beach police notified the county police, who immediately responded, alerted FIU officials and with the help of Florida Highway Patrol, began closing all the roads around the area. In addition to closing the Turnpike, police closed major arteries such 117th and 122nd avenues.
Traffic was backed up and drivers got out of their cars to try to figure out what was going on.
One of those people, Luis Obregon, had run out to do some errands and came back to the blocked streets, unable to return to his home. He called his 14-year-old son. “Don’t open the doors to anyone,” he told him. “Stay in the house.”
Zabaleta said police entered the apartment and found an elderly man and women, both of whom had no idea what was going on.
An initial check of the apartment revealed no explosives, no hostages or any unusual behavior.
Police continued to search the building and the surrounding area.
Zabaleta said there were no threats and police cleared the building and neighborhood.
“At this time there is no reason to be alarmed,” he said shortly after 11 p.m. “Nothing was found,” adding it could have been a hoax.
As of 11:15 p.m., the Turnpike and neighboring streets were reopened.