All clear issued on barge at Natchez port; suspicious bag determined not to be threat

Published 7:46 pm Sunday, May 5, 2024

NATCHEZ —  The all-clear has been given on a suspicious package found on a barge traveling the Mississippi River near Natchez on Sunday.

The barge was stopped about a mile south of the Adams County port when a Jackson bomb squad and Office of Homeland Security officers determined that a suspicious bag found on board was not a threat, officials said.

A suspicious package was found to be an empty bag. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said he’d received a call from 911 at approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday about a suspicious package found on a barge. Adams County Emergency Management, FBI, Adams County Search and Rescue, Wildlife and Fisheries and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency were also contacted in addition to Adams County and Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Offices, the Jackson Police Department bomb squad, and Homeland Security, he said.

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According to Patten, a suspicious black bag was found by crew members deep in a poorly lit bin where typically only transported materials would be.

“It was only suspicious because of where it was. It was out of place in one of the hatches. They responded in the right way by calling and not trying to move it themselves,” he said.

Immediately after crew members noticed the bag on board, the barge contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, which notified Adams County 911.

Out of an abundance of caution, the barge had a temporary emergency docking about a mile south of the Adams County port — before reaching the Mississippi River bridge — and those on board were evacuated, Patten said. Then Homeland Security and Jackson bomb squad officers rode out to the barge on boats to do a safety check.

Once it was determined there was no threat to the crew or anyone in the vicinity, the crew members were safely transported back to the barge to continue as they were going, Patten said.

“I want to thank all the agencies who responded,” he said, adding those who did had “technology that we did not have at the local level. We’d rather be safe than sorry.”