A bomb squad from the El Paso County Sheriff's Department arrived in Buena Vista around noon Tuesday to assist local law enforcement with an improvised explosive device found in a pickup truck between the library and the police department.
The device was identified as a military mortar round with wires and a cell phone, Chaffee County Sheriff Department public information officer Laura Smith said.
A remotely operated robot was sent in to deactivate the device by cutting wires, Smith said.
The explosive device was reported to police at about 7 a.m. by a woman who had been cleaning the Buena Vista Public Library, according to Buena Vista Police chief Jimmy Tidwell.
"We had a lady that came to the PD this morning after 7 and reported that there was an explosive device in the back of her pickup," Tidwell said.
The woman apparently parked her vehicle to clean the library, and discovered what she believed to be an explosive device when she returned to her truck, which was parked in a lot between the library and the police department.
"She has no clue who put it there," Tidwell said.
The Buena Vista Police Department and the Chaffee County Sheriff took pictures of the object and "determined it was an explosive device," Tidwell said. The images were emailed to the El Paso County Sheriff Department's bomb squad. Meanwhile, the library and nearby buildings were evacuated, streets were closed and a Code Red alert was broadcast to the community.
"We have to have everybody back 100 yards minimum," Tidwell said.
All Buena Vista schools were placed in lock out status as a "precautionary measure," Tidwell said. Lock out status means there is free movement within buildings, however, no one is allowed in and no one is allowed to leave, a message on the district's answering service explained. Leadville schools were also placed on lock out as a precautionary measure.
The object was identified as an improvised explosive device by a statement released by county emergency officials. The Buena Vista Police Department, Chaffee County Sheriff’s Department, Chaffee County Fire and Chaffee County EMS remain on-scene.
All traffic was still being routed around the U.S. 24-Main Street intersection as of mid-morning. U.S. 24 is closed and traffic is being diverted by Colorado State Patrol at mile marker 210 and 211 to an alternate route on Railroad Street.