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'Suspicious' Plastic Bag Shuts Down Part of Bedford Avenue for an Hour

By  Meredith Hoffman and Patrick Hedlund | May 18, 2012 12:41pm | Updated on May 18, 2012 2:18pm

The "I Love NY" shopping bag was left hanging from a tree on Bedford Avenue after cops decided it was actually not harmful.
The "I Love NY" shopping bag was left hanging from a tree on Bedford Avenue after cops decided it was actually not harmful.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

WILLIAMSBURG — A suspicious package that turned out to be a plastic bag hanging from a tree on Bedford Avenue closed a nearly three-block stretch of the busy strip Friday morning, authorities and witnesses said.

The package — a white “I ♥ New York” bag attached to a tree in front of 203 Bedford Ave., between North Fifth and Sixth streets — drew emergency crews to the scene to investigate about 11:24 a.m., FDNY officials said.

A vendor who sets up in front of the address said a resident of the building saw the bag and decided to call the police.

“Nobody knows what’s in it. I wish people would not do such stupid things,” said the vendor, Lydia, who declined to provide her last name.

“Maybe it’s a joke, but you don’t know what’s inside.”

Emergency crews blocked off the avenue from North Fourth Street to midway between North Sixth and Seventh streets to investigate.

"I think it's a UFO that landed on that building on North Fourth Street," said Diablo Dee, 43, who had come to the stretch to shop for a new book. "It's exciting."

Others waiting by the closed-off street said they were surprised at the closure, but that they were glad the police were thoroughly inspecting the package.

"The fact that they're taking action is comforting," said Dennis McNanny, the manager of Uva wine store whose store at North Sixth Street was blocked from the street closure, and noted that he had never witnessed such a scare in the five years he worked on Bedford.

And Israeli tourist Dror Reuven, who waited to enter the blocked-off stretch he had read about in his guidebook, said he was surprised at the scene in Brooklyn — but that he was not jarred.

"It reminds me of home," said Reuven, from Jerusalem. "In Israel this kind of thing is normal."

Cops cleared the scene and allowed traffic to resume on the street about 12:25 p.m.

Within minutes the street was bustling just like before the closure, and resident Angelique Everett finally emerged from her building the first time all day. She said the cops had made her stay in her apartment next to the tree, since she had been sleeping when the street was first evacuated.

"I was really freaked out, and my dog was scared," said Everett, 33, who said she heard a police officer say there was a "battery in the bag with wires attached to it."

"I woke up and everything was clear, and people were screaming. I was running around the house in my underwear trying to figure out what was going on."

Relieved by the street reopening, Everett took her dog on a stroll down the block. The shopping bag remained hanging on its branch, and passersby in sunglasses walked by without noticing the plastic object above them.