SEATTLE — A suspicious backpack found Monday along the route of a march honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in Spokane, Wash., contained a live bomb that was “likely capable of inflicting multiple casualties,” federal investigators said Tuesday.
The package, found before the morning march, prompted law enforcement to ask march officials to change their route and several businesses to evacuate as investigators sent in bomb-smelling dogs, a robot and specially trained officers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the bomb was neutralized at the scene. It was found on a bench at North Washington Street and West Main Avenue.
“We’re certainly approaching it as a potential domestic terrorism event at this point,” said Frank Harrill, the F.B.I.’s supervisory senior resident agent in Spokane.
“Whether the motive was racial or an individual was being targeted, it’s too soon to say,” he said.
The device, partially concealed by clothing in a Swiss Army-brand backpack, was reported to police about 9:25 a.m. by a contract worker whose duties included helping to maintain a nearby parking lot, Mr. Harrill said. The worker apparently handled the bag and took photographs of it and sent the photographs to the police, Mr. Harrill said.
The F.B.I. is offering a $20,000 reward for information about the identity of anyone seen with the backpack. The agency is also seeking photographs or video taken in the area that morning.
The Rev. Percy Watkins, known as Happy, who read Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at a gathering before the march that included city officials, American Indian leaders and others, said most people in the march did not know about the bomb threat, or that the march had been rerouted, until after the march.