Posted on Tue, May. 14, 2002 Letter carrier finds bomb in corner mailbox The suspicious box had "Free Palestine now" on the outside. The explosive sent shrapnel 100 feet when detonated by police. By Barbara Boyer and Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. Inquirer Staff Writers A bomb found in a corner mailbox in Northeast Philadelphia and exploded by police sent shrapnel flying more than 100 feet and contained a message that read: "Free Palestine now." The bomb - under investigation as an act of terrorism - was wrapped in a foam box packed with nails and had a sophisticated switch to allow the bomber to plant the device safely without it exploding prematurely, authorities said. The message attached to the package urged, "Open this now," and demanded, "Free Palestine now. Al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda." "We're very concerned at this point," John R. Sinnen of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said, adding that an alert had been sent to warn all area postal employees. A mail carrier found the bomb about noon near Princeton and Summerdale Avenues in a serene community with residents of various races and religions. Two blocks away, at J. Hampton Moore Elementary School, students were not allowed outside during their lunch period as authorities continued their investigation. Milton McGriff, a school district spokesman, said: "There was never any imminent danger to the kids." The device was planted less than a week after a 21-year-old Minnesota student was arrested and charged with planting more than a dozen pipe bombs in mailboxes in rural areas throughout the West, Midwest and South. Six people - two letter carriers and four residents - were wounded after bombs exploded in Illinois and Iowa. Authorities said the bomb found yesterday was a more sophisticated device than the pipe bombs in the recent attacks. The potential for serious injury existed yesterday had the device gone off before bomb-squad workers were able to trigger a controlled explosion with a water cannon, said Linda Vizi, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Philadelphia. Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area is asked to contact the FBI at 215-418-4000. Sinnen said the carrier, whose name was not released, did just as he was trained to do. He opened the mailbox, saw the package that appeared suspicious and had no postage, shut the box, and called his supervisor. Police quickly cordoned the area with crime-scene tape to secure a two-block area. After the bomb squad viewed the package with an X-ray machine, officials decided immediately to set off a controlled explosion. Neighbors said they were surprised by the police activity, which is uncommon in the area. "We moved here because it's quiet," said Dayra Cook, who lives with her husband within two blocks of where the bomb was planted. "When we walk our dog, everyone is really friendly and waves to each other."