The suspicious package was found on West St. Georges Avenue near North Stiles Street in Linden. (Google Maps)

LINDEN — Local and federal authorities are investigating a suspicious device that was found in a city neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.

The find — which turned out not to be a bomb — prompted police to remove hundreds of people from their homes as the county bomb squad and the FBI responded to a city that had experienced a run-in with terrorism just five months earlier.

Police were alerted to the package about 6 p.m. on the 1100 block of West St. Georges Avenue. After 8:45 p.m., the department said the “device” had been “disrupted" by the bomb squad. An hour later, nearly 200 residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Officials told New Jersey 101.5 that the device was not a bomb but that it appeared to be a decoy of some kind.

"We are confident that this incident was isolated and there is no further danger to the public," the Linden Police Department said in a statement released after midnight.

"Although this device was determined not to contain actual explosives, additional police units were deployed to sweep the area, including critical infrastructure facilities, for additional devices and did not locate any."

Police, however, did not explain what the actual device was or whether they were looking for an suspects.

The device was connected to a pay phone outside of a store, ABC7 Eyewitness News reported. Mayor Derek Armstead told reporters that the device looked like taped dynamite.

Police evacuated two nearby apartment buildings. After waiting outside for several hours, residents were escorted back to their home about 10 p.m. The street, however, remained closed between North Stiles and Ross as the investigation continued through the night.

The neighborhood includes several convenience stores and a strip mall.

Linden is the city where suspected Seaside Park and Chelsea bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi was arrested in September after a shootout with city police officers. Hours before his arrest, authorities detonated a bomb that investigators say Rahimi had discarded at the Midtown Elizabeth train station, not far from where he and his family lived. Rahimi, whose father says he was inspired by jihadist propaganda, is facing state charges of attempted murder of police officers as well as federal terrorism charges.

Linden Police Chief Jonathan Parham thanked the "concerned citizen" who reported the suspicious device Thursday evening.

"This even, like so many others we have seen, truly highlights the significance of the police-community relationship, and how important it is for our friends and neighbors to remain vigilant," Parham said. "We cannot do it without you."

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email

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