Greenwich Police: No Charges for Man Who Left Backpack in Bank [UPDATE]

An off-duty Department of Homeland Security employee noticed the unattended backpack in the Bank of America Byram branch on Wednesday afternoon.

A man who identified himself as Nico Sveikausas of Port Chester, NY, is questioned by Greenwich Police Wednesday evening. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.
A man who identified himself as Nico Sveikausas of Port Chester, NY, is questioned by Greenwich Police Wednesday evening. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.

By Barbara Heins

Updated: 12:10 p.m., March 27:
There won't be any charges filed against the Port Chester, NY resident who absent-mindedly left a camouflage backpack inside a Byram bank Wednesday afternoon, triggering a bomb squad response and a blockade of the neighborhood on the state border.

Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray said Thursday, an off-duty Department of Homeland Security employee who happened to be in the Bank of America branch at 30 S. Water St. and noticed the unattended military-style backpack and called police at 1:59 p.m., March 26.

"From our perspective, the world we live in — it's see something, say something. ... there was a risk assessment. In the 21st century, in the shadow of New York City, there was a methodical evaluation ... it turned out that it was nothing nefarious," Gray said. "Being odd and absent-minded is not cause for arrest," he added.

As members of the Stamford bomb squad and their robots were inspecting the bag, its owner, Niko Sveikausas, a SUNY Purchase student who lives in Port Chester, pedaled his bicycle up to the scene stating he needed to retrieve his backpack filled with camping gear, books and a tape recorder.

Sveikausas said he had three bags when he entered the bank to make a deposit and didn't realize until hours later that his backpack was missing. Gray said the backpack was returned to Sveikausas after he was questioned by Greenwich detectives.

Updated: 1045 p.m., March 26:
Greenwich Police say it is "unlikely" charges will be brought against a Port Chester, NY man who claimed he inadvertently left a backpack in a bank lobby, prompting a full-scale bomb squad response on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Greenwich Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray, "We've located the bag owner and it's looking like it won't result in an arrest." Gray would not confirm or discuss comments made by a man who identified himself as Nico Sveikausas of Port Chester, NY, who bicycled to the cordoned off neighborhood of South Water Street and claimed while making a deposit, he inadvertently left a backpack in the lobby of the Bank of America branch office at 30 S. Water St., about 2:30 p.m. March 26. 

The man was taken to Greenwich Police headquarters for questioning after speaking to reporters gathered at the scene.

"This most likely won't result in an arrest ... there are a couple things that (detectives) are tying up but it doesn't look like there will be an arrest. We're winding down the interviews with the bag's owner...there are just a few loose ends to tie up," Gray said. 

Updated: 8:15 p.m., March 26:
Greenwich Police detectives were continuing to "investigate the circumstances" that led to a suspicious package being left in the lobby of the Bank of America branch at 30 S. Water St. in the Byram section of Greenwich Wednesday afternoon.

A backpack-type package was removed from the bank after 6 p.m. by a member of the Stamford Police Bomb Squad which was called in to assist Greenwich Police who had deemed the package left in the lobby of the bank about 2:30 p.m. March 26. Two bomb squad robots were seen entering and leaving the bank with emergency personnel throughout the afternoon.

The neighborhood between Mill Street and Church Street West was cordoned off and businesses and residences immediately adjacent to the bank branch that's at the intersection of Mill and William streets were evacuated, according to Greenwich Police spokesman, Lt. Kraig Gray.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m., a bicyclist arrived on the scene saying he needed to retrieve his backpack he mistakenly left in the bank earlier in the afternoon. The man identified himself to a small gaggle of media gathered at the corner of Mill and South Water, as Nico Sveikausas of Port Chester, NY.

Sveikausas said he went into the bank to make a deposit and had three bags with him. He realized later that he left one behind and bicycled back to the bank. "It was a backpack...it has camping supplies, a tape recorder and books in it," Sveikausas explained to reporters.

He said that given post Sept. 11 security concerns, he could understand "this whole cascade of what's happening" with the police response.

Patrol officers and detectives briefly questioned Sveikausas before patting him down and driving him to police headquarters for questioning. 

During the event, Greenwich Fire Department crews and Greenwich Emergency Medical Service also were at the scene. The fire department left about 6:30 p.m.

Update, 5:17 p.m.
Greenwich police are questioning a Port Chester, N.Y. resident who claims he left his backpack with camping supplies, books and a tape recorder in the lobby of the bank. 

Update, 4:37 p.m. 
Greenwich Police Lt. Kraig Gray confirmed police inspected an unattended package found in the lobby of Bank of America on South Water Street and determined it should be treated suspiciously.

The Stamford Police Bomb Squad was called in to evaluate the package.

“We’re being extremely cautious because we don’t know what we’re dealing with,” Gray said, adding that he will not describe the package.

South Water Street is closed from Mill Street to Division Street. All businesses in the immediate area and adjacent homes have been evacuated.

Traffic is not being allowed on South Water Street and the immediate area, with the exception of people needing to retrieve their cars and then leave the area, Gray said.

New Lebanon School on Mead Avenue is a block and a half away.

“They followed their own protocols for incidences of this nature,” Gray said.

Original article, 3:11 p.m.
Greenwich Police have shut down South Water Street as they investigate a report of a suspicious package, according to information transmitted over the scanner and on Twitter.

The Stamford Bomb Squad is responding, too.

The address provided over the scanner is 30 South Water St., the location of a Bank of America branch. Greenwich Time reporter Justin Pottle Tweeted that South Water Street is closed.

Greenwich Police Lt. Kraig Gray was not immediately available for comment.

Editors Gary Jeanfaivre and Jaimie Cura contributed to this report.
Scott Peterson March 26, 2014 at 11:45 PM
That it happened is less than a new story but where it happened is new. Had the situation been handled in a manner typical of pre-9/11 and it turned out bad, the cops would have been criticized for under-reacting. Thankfully it didn't turn out bad but that leaves the police open to being chastised for over-reacting. The debate over liberty vs security is an abstract to many but this event pushed it into the face of a community seemingly well insulated from such is new. This is what makes it "news" which is after all a contraction of "new story".
Barbara Heins March 27, 2014 at 12:29 AM
Thank you Scott for your comments. I can only imagine the comments if those motorists who were delayed from the more than usual bottle-necks at the byramn/PC border, didn't have the full story. And believe me, there was plenty of horn-honking at the scene tonight!
Scott Peterson March 27, 2014 at 12:42 AM
Such horn honking is a symptom of frustration over not being informed which may lead to the public backlash at the perceived over-reaction. Avoiding it would be easy but speaking to people like adults instead of suspects seems beyond the scope of police procedure in this more secure world we live in now.
Barbara Heins March 27, 2014 at 01:30 PM
Scott ... there was public notification via local media and Greenwich police. You can follow us on Twitter: @GreenwichPatch and GPD: @GreenwichCTPD for all of the latest updates.


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