San Ramon police deem suspicious pressure cooker safe

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Evacuations were ordered at a San Ramon strip mall on Tuesday morning amid fears that an abandoned pressure cooker with exposed wires left in the shopping center parking lot was an explosive device.

San Ramon Police Capt. Denton Carlson told KTVU that it turned out to be just a "regular pressure cooker" left by a man about 8 a.m. at Crow Canyon Commons, home to Zachary's Chicago Pizza, several banks and a Sprouts supermarket, among other shops. 

His colleague, Capt. Cary Goldberg said they got a call that a "suspicious suspect" had dropped off the cooker.

"Our hunch was the device was harmless but at the same time, why would someone drop off a pressure cooker in the middle of a parking lot?" Carlson said. "The totality of the circumstances was just enough for us to take the steps we did. No reason we should risk the safety of anyone when there was no reason we couldn't do it safely and with the necessary precautions."

Police evacuated the nearby area and called in the Walnut Creek Bomb Squad to remove the cooker, all the while tweeting regular updates to the public, complete with video of the robot and a drone sent overhead. The FBI was also called in.

By 11:30 a.m. the area was deemed safe and the evacuation order was lifted.

Goldberg said he was glad the caller reported the device, even if it turned out to be nothing.

"We'd rather see that everyone is safe," he said.