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.
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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.
Tonight’s Game 3 in Atlanta has been delayed 30 minutes due to a State Farm Arena security issue. 7:45pm is the new expected tip time.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 22, 2022
Tonight’s game has been delayed. Tipoff will be at 7:45 p.m. ET.— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) April 22, 2022
Thank you for your patience.
Statement on suspicious package before Game 3 of Hawks/Heat game pic.twitter.com/VJJnJCqxpF— Zach Klein (@ZachKleinWSB) April 22, 2022
Atlanta’s ABC News affiliate WSB-TV contributed to this report.