Heat game delayed after man abandons ‘suspicious’ backpack outside Atlanta arena

An NBA source released these images of a suspect who abandoned a backpack on Friday outside of the stadium in Atlanta, ABC News' Atlanta affiliate reported. (ABC NEWS VIA WSBTV)

MIAMI – The Miami Heat’s Friday night game against the Hawks was delayed for about 30 minutes after a man abandoned a backpack in a busy area outside of the arena.

The Atlanta Police Department investigated it as a suspicious package in the area of the State Farm Arena’s Gate 2, near a busy stairwell to the subway station. Officers also closed Gates 1 and 3 during the investigation.

Two images show a man who is accused of dropping off the backpack, which had wires and a liquid substance inside, an NBA source said, according to Atlanta’s ABC News affiliate.

Related story: Young hits floater with 4.4 left, Hawks beat Heat 111-110

Fans enter a gate after three others were closed due to a suspicious package before Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The bomb squad determined the backpack did not contain an explosive device and police dogs scanned the area. Once officers removed the backpack, fans were allowed to continue to wait in line to approach the security checkpoints.

The players were on the court at about 7:35 p.m. The Game 3 tip-off was set for 7:45 p.m. and later delayed to about 7:55 p.m. The Hawks beat the Heat 111-110. Game 4 is on Sunday night in Atlanta.

The State Farm Arena released this statement:

Prior to tonight’s Eastern Conference First Round matchup between the Hawks and Miami Heat, a suspicious package was found outside Gate 2 of State Farm Arena. Out of an abundance of caution, Gates 1, 2 and 3 were temporarily closed by the Atlanta Police Department while the police department, K-9 units and Arena security worked to clear the area and investigate the contents of the package. The contents of the package were not found to be explosive, and the package was removed safely by the Atlanta Bomb Squad.

Security guards stand on the concourse after three gates were closed due to a suspicious package before Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round Eastern Conference playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat on Friday, April 22, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis) (Copyright 2022. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Location

Atlanta’s ABC News affiliate WSB-TV contributed to this report.


About the Authors:

Clay Ferraro joined the Local 10 News team in 2014 to take his dream job: covering big-time sports at a first-class station in paradise. 

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.