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Police stop Amtrak train in Newark

Spokesman says searches may be routine ahead of political conventions


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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Police stopped Amtrak train 170 Thursday in Newark, New Jersey, for what Amtrak called "police activity" after a note was found in a bathroom, an Amtrak official said.

The train was allowed to continue its Washington-to-Boston trip after a search.

Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel said, "Train 170 was stopped at 7:52 a.m. this morning in Newark, New Jersey, for police activity."

"The passengers were kept on the train ... and there was a check of passengers' IDs," Stessel said. "Because so many passengers on that particular train use monthly passes, it was important that we understood exactly which passengers were on that train, and so when police conducted their investigation, they wrote down the names and ID information of everyone onboard."

"There was no threat to the train," he said. "The police used canine units that swept the train, and there was no reason to believe there was any type of device or anything of the sort onboard."

There was confusion over how the note was found and what it said. Stessel said a passenger found the note in a bathroom, but a law enforcement source told CNN an Amtrak employee had found it.

Although Amtrak would not disclose the content of the note, the law enforcement source told CNN it was threatening but did not indicate there were explosives on the train or that it was related to terrorism. The note was given to agents from the Newark FBI.

Stessel said these types of searches -- involving asking for IDs and addresses and names -- will be routine through the Republican National Convention, which begins in late August in New York.

He referred to the police activity as a "routine sweep."

A passenger on the train, Jeffrey Rodgers, told CNN that officers with dogs came onto the car where he was riding. He said they also videotaped the car and its passengers.

Rodgers said the train's engineer came on the train's intercom and apologized for the delay. He said the engineer said police needed to conduct a search but added there was no danger.

Amtrak said the train was carrying around 800 passengers. After the search, it left Newark for New York City's Penn Station about 10 minutes before 10 a.m. ET. Amtrak said the train would continue to its final destination of Boston.


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