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Police say suspicious device found near Wichita abortion clinic didn't contain explosives

Wichita Police reopen the area around Trust Women after a suspicious package was found to not have explosives. An investigation is ongoing.
Hugo Phan
/
KMUW
Wichita Police reopen the area around Trust Women after a suspicious package was found to not contain explosives. An investigation is ongoing.

The Trust Women Clinic, a Wichita abortion provider, said it called police Wednesday morning after noticing a suspicious package outside the building. The incident happened one year after Kansans voted to reject a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have removed the right to abortion.

UPDATE, Aug. 2, 2023, 2:30 p.m. — A suspicious device that a local abortion clinic reported to police Wednesday morning did not contain explosives, Wichita Police said Wednesday afternoon.

A criminal investigation into who left the package and what their motive was is ongoing.

“Right now, we just know we had an object that was left behind,” Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said. “We don’t know if there was any criminal intent, but we intend to find out.”

Kellogg has reopened in the area. Police closed it from Rock Road to Oliver for about six hours earlier in the day while investigating the device.

Residents and business owners in the area, who were evacuated or asked to shelter in place, can return.

Trust Women Clinic, the abortion provider, said in a statement that staff were safe and patients were not scheduled to be at the clinic Wednesday.

The incident comes one year after Kansans voted to reject a proposed state constitutional amendmentthat would have removed the right to abortion.

Wichita Police Department patrol cars block off the neighborhood near Kellogg and Oliver.
Celia Hack
/
KMUW
Wichita Police Department patrol cars block off the neighborhood near Kellogg and Oliver.

In its statement, the clinic condemned acts of violence against abortion providers “by authoritarian extremists.”

“Our clinic, like so many independent abortion clinics across the country, is a place of medicine, healing and love for our communities,” the statement said. “Our patients find compassion and solidarity at our clinic, once they’ve made it past the vitriol and hatred of the extremists at our gates.”

Trust Women clinic was operated for decades by Dr. George Tiller. The clinic was bombed in 1986 and has been the target of bomb threats for decades. Tiller was shot and wounded outside the clinic in 1993.

Zach Gingrich-Gaylord, a spokesman from the clinic, said security there called police before 8 a.m. after discovering a suspicious package outside the clinic during a routine sweep of the area.

"Our standard protocol is call the police and have them investigate it," Gingrich-Gaylord said.
“Unfortunately, this is just standard operating procedure for an abortion clinic.”

At least four local agencies – Wichita Police Department, Wichita Fire Department, Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Services and the Kansas Highway Patrol – responded to the incident. They were joined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Wichita Police Department activated its bomb squad.

Updated: August 2, 2023 at 3:13 PM CDT
Wichita Police say the device did not contain explosives.
Celia Hack is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, she worked at The Wichita Beacon covering local government and as a freelancer for The Shawnee Mission Post and the Kansas Leadership Center’s The Journal. She is originally from Westwood, Kansas, but Wichita is her home now.
Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.
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