Owner of Suspicious Car Carrying Rice Cooker Calls Capitol Scare a Misunderstanding

A man whose vehicle carrying a rice cooker and propane tank triggered a scare on Capitol Hill Sunday afternoon called it a big misunderstanding.

Israel Shimeles of Alexandria, Virginia, told News4 he is a law-abiding citizen.

U.S. Capitol Police smelled gas coming from his vehicle parked near the U.S. Capitol and called in the bomb squad. They broke out the back window, removed the rice cooker and propane tank and disrupted them with explosives.

Shimeles said he understands they needed to protect the crowd gathering for the evening Memorial Day concert.

"Right in front of the Capitol, of course I would have done the same thing,” he said. “You know I would have freaked out and I would have done the same thing."

Shimeles said he operates a food truck. He needed space in it so he removed the rice cooker and a propane tank and put them in his car. They were in the car when he parked near the Capitol.

“I just happened to be there,” he said. “I should have thought about it a little bit more. You know, if I had to do it again, absolutely I would have been a little more careful."

Shimeles said he's sorry for delaying anyone trying to get to the Memorial Day concert.

He was cited for driving on a suspended license.

Authorities have noted that pressure cookers have been used in the past to create explosive devices. Three people were killed and more than 260 others wounded in April 2013 when two pressure-cooker bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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