Security issue forced temporary Metra shutdown

May 19, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It was quite a scare for the owner of Café 57. She spotted two people abandoning a suitcase so she sprang into action.

It was chaos on the Metra Electric line near 57 and Lake Park. Inbound and outbound trains were halted, and K-9 units called in. Passengers were forced off the trains and platforms.

"We could not get on because it was blocked by police," said passenger Erika Watkins.

The security sweep was for a suspicious package found near the tracks. The coffee shop owner found the package and called police. She says as she spotted something the raised a red flag so she called for help.

I saw two guys standing outside by the bushes," said Café 57 owner Belinda Lipscomb. "Usually when I see people standing outside, I do not get out of my car. I waited until they left, but I didn't notice the luggage that was out there. When I opened the shop, that is when I noticed the luggage."

The K-9 unit was brought in and the dogs detected something. The bomb squad detonated the suitcase only to find it empty side. With the NATO summit in town and visitors all-around Chicago, authorities praised her for being aware.

"To our regular program, See Something-Say Something, a conscientious citizen called it in," said John Graeber.

New security rules are in effect for Metra. Passengers are prohibited to bring any baggage larger than 15 inches on board. No food or drinks will be allowed. No backpacks will be allowed.

Signs are posted are posted at platforms to notify passengers. Guards are also on board screening riders and belongings.

"Their checking to make sure you do not have any bags and you're not doing anything suspicious," said Metra rider Michael Thompson.

No one was injured in the suitcase incident. If you do plan on coming downtown or taking the train, Metra is advising all passengers to come to the platform 15 minutes ahead of time to give yourself extra time to go through any security measures. You cannot bring anything larger than 15 inches on board.

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