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Abandoned Rental Truck Causes Bomb Scare in La Mesa

Police arrest a homeless man for allegedly stealing a truck near Gillespie Field and abandoning it in a suspicious manner.

Updated Oct. 13 @ 5:30 p.m.

A rental truck stolen from a car wash near Gillespie Field last Saturday was found abandoned under suspicious circumstances in a no-parking zone near La Mesa police headquarters Thursday, and prompted a road closure until authorities determined that the vehicle contained nothing hazardous.

Witnesses reported seeing a man park the U-Haul truck along a curb in the 8000 block of University Avenue about 10:15 a.m., then get out and run off, carrying two duffel bags, according to police.

Due to the man's suspicious behavior, officers cordoned off the thoroughfare between Spring Street and Baltimore Drive and requested assistance from a sheriff's bomb squad and a service-dog team from the San Diego Harbor Police Department. The explosives experts checked out the vehicle and gave an all-clear shortly before 1 p.m., after which the roadway was reopened to the public.

The truck's driver, later identified as 35-year-old Damian Payne, was located and detained about four blocks away. Payne, a transient, was jailed on suspicion of auto theft and possession of stolen property.

-City News Service

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