Mysterious cooler on drag found to be empty

David Maly

Students walking along the drag Thursday morning were filled with confusion as they watched local authorities cautiously examine a closed cooler.

University of Texas Police Department officers were dispatched to a call made by an unidentified UT faculty member around 8:23 a.m. regarding a mysterious, closed cooler left at the Northeast corner of West 24th and Guadalupe Streets, police said. After nearly an hour of investigation and examination, an officer opened the cooler and discovered it was empty, police said. According to police, the case was declared closed at 9:19 a.m.

Austinite Kati Adams, who watched the incident unfold, said many onlookers were on edge as more authorities arrived to deal with the mysterious cooler.

"They had the corner where the cooler was completely taped off and the whole block was surrounded by APD," she said "I sat there and just watched. I didn’t know what was going on."

Five officers from the Austin Police Department were called in to assist officers from the UTPD with the incident, police said.

Adams said when the cooler was opened, the relief of the officer examining the package was apparent.

“They brought in a guy that had what looked like a shield,” she said. “He went around every angle of it and finally opened the cooler and yelled ‘It’s empty!’”

Adams said the mass of authorities and concerned onlookers that had gathered around the cooler soon began to disperse, and the drag was back to normal within a few minutes.

“Very quickly, they were gone,” she said.

Tony Ortiz, manager of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, a coffee shop across the street from where the cooler was found, said the incident did not seem to affect business for his establishment or halt other daily life in the area.

Printed on Friday, September 14, 2012 as: Cooler causes, concern, bomb squad responds