A suspicious object resembling a pipe bomb prompted Palo Alto police to shut down a portion of Middlefield Road and evacuate residents from about a dozen homes Sunday morning.
Police responded to a report of a suspicious item in the roadway in the 1300 block of Middlefield, close to Lucie Stern Community Center, shortly before 9 a.m. The object consisted of a cylindrical bottle with a cell phone strapped to it and wires sticking out of it, police said in a statement.
Police asked residents in about a dozen homes close to the object to evacuate, said police Agent Marianne Villaescusa. Residents in a few dozen other homes were either told to take shelter away from the windows or advised not to leave the house, she said.
"Any houses that could have possibly been in any danger if it had been a blast were evacuated," Villaescusa said. "We spoke with other people and they were given the choice to evacuate or shelter in-place, which is what a lot of people chose."
Police also shut down traffic on Middlefield between Embarcadero Road and Kingsley Avenue until about 1 p.m.
The Santa Clara County Bomb Squad inspected the device and deemed it "suspicious" but inert. The bomb squad used a robot to detonate the device at about 1 p.m.
Police are trying to locate the person responsible for the device. Anyone with information is asked to call Palo Alto police at 650-329-2413 or make an anonymous report at email@example.com.