A suspicious package filled with screws was blown apart by the Richland Bomb Squad on Monday morning outside the Benton County Justice Center in Kennewick.
The package was made to look like a pipe bomb with black tape and screws inside, but did not have an explosive device, said Benton County Sheriff's Lt. Chuck Jones.
A group of informational pickets spotted the suspicious package near the west entrance to the building and notified security about 11 a.m.
The pickets noticed the package, which they said was there when they arrived at around 7:30 a.m. but believed it was an exposed end of a sewer pipe.
Lisa Campbell of Richland said it wasn't until they were cleaning up and preparing to leave at around 10:30 a.m. when they realized it wasn't a sewer pipe.
Campbell said she nudged it with her foot to see if it was a pipe. When it moved, everyone moved back, and Campbell said they immediately reported it to authorities.
About 15 adults and children were in front of the Benton County Justice Center at that time, she said.
Jones said the call came in at 11:04 a.m. Kennewick and Richland police helped deputies clear the area, locked the justice center doors and cordoned off the parking lot.
Inmates and corrections officers were not evacuated.
The Richland Bomb Squad X-rayed the package and then used a water cannon to blast it apart, Jones said.
No one was injured. Sheriff's deputies gathered the pieces of the device and the screws into evidence bags.
Jones said the incident will be investigated as a crime.
"It was definitely made to look like an explosive and put there to make people nervous," Jones said.
Campbell said, "I'm just thankful that it wasn't anything and that everybody's OK."