The actions of a fedora-wearing man whom police described as "disgruntled" triggered a midday disruption along Minneapolis' Nicollet Mall on Friday as hundreds of downtown workers drawn outside by pleasant weather strolled the streets.
Police later identified the man, whose alleged bomb threat and apprehension prompted the evacuation of Gaviidae Common and the closure of several surrounding streets, as Philip James Pariso, 33, of Inver Grove Heights.
Pariso was being held in the Hennepin County jail Friday night on suspicion of kidnapping and terroristic threats, both potential felony charges, said Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Steve McCarty. The Star Tribune generally does not name uncharged suspects, but makes exceptions for some incidents that occur in a public place.
The most dramatic moment of Friday's episode came inside the M&I Bank near 6th Street and Nicollet Avenue after Pariso came in and said he had either a bomb, a gun, or both, police said.
Traffic on Nicollet and Hennepin Avenue was blocked for a while, and the Gaviidae evacuation lasted for about an hour before Pariso was apprehended without incident and escorted out of the bank.
Police Inspector Eddie Frizell said Pariso had a book bag with him, but did not say whether he had anything dangerous in his possession. McCarty said later that Pariso did not have a bomb or gun.
The incident began earlier Friday, when Pariso came to the studios of WCCO-TV (Channel 4) at 90 S. 11th St. and was turned away after asking to speak with a reporter.
Soon afterward, the station reported, a man believed to be the same person called WCCO and repeated his request to speak with a reporter. He added that if his story wasn't heard, the station would hear about it, WCCO said.
"He was just disgruntled, tried to take it to 'CCO and then ended up at M&I Bank," Frizell said.
The station posted its surveillance video of Pariso coming to its door at about 10:05 a.m. Wearing a fedora and holding a large bag, he appeared to hit an intercom button and then spoke. He waited briefly, then walked away.
On her lunch break from her downtown job, Jen Swanson said that she saw "two or three police cars pull haphazardly onto the curb" outside Gaviidae Common, where she was heading to get a cup of coffee. Swanson noticed one officer setting up a sniper rifle on a tripod, and then "he marched in to Gaviidae."
She said she got her coffee somewhere else.
Joe Golob said he heard shouting outside shortly after noon and went to see what was going on. He said he saw police snipers pointing their guns at the M&I building.
According to Hennepin County records, Pariso was arrested in 2010 in Minneapolis for causing a nuisance.
Staff writer Nicole Norfleet contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 Rose French • 612-673-4352