Tankless water heater led to bomb threat near Jackson Square, NOPD says

(Photo: A Lucky Dog vendor stands in Jackson Square following a bomb threat on Dec. 11. | Eric T. Styles)
A bomb threat that led to the evacuation of Jackson Square and a portion of Decatur Street on Friday turned out to be a tankless water heater, according to New Orleans Police on Tuesday.

Officers responded to a call from French Market security guards, who reported a suspicious box on the corner of St. Ann and Decatur streets at about 9 a.m., according to Lt. Sam Palumbo, Jr.

Upon arrival, officers saw an inscription on the box that led them to believe it was a bomb, leading to the evacuation of the surrounding area.

Bomb squad technicians later determined the box was not an explosive device, Palumbo said.

“It really did look look like one,” said Palumbo, who revealed the box’s actual contents during Tuesday’s Max meeting at the NOPD’s 8th District headquarters on Royal Street. “We really did think it was a device.”

Officers arrested a 42-year-old man, identified as Steve Nguyen, who allegedly admitted to writing the inscription. Palumbo did not say what was written on the box.

Nguyen was booked into Orleans Parish Justice Center on one count related to a fake explosive device.

Nguyen on Saturday appeared via videoconference in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Section M2, where his bail was set at $30,000.

He is scheduled to appear at 3 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2021 in section M4 of Orleans Parish Criminal Court, where he is expected to oppose the charge, according to records.