Bag of clothing sparks police response at St. Cletus


Lars Lonnroth, Assistant News Editor

A suspicious package was left unattended at the St. Cletus Church in La Grange on Thursday afternoon. It led to an almost four hour-long police investigation that eventually discovered the package was only a duffle bag filled with clothing, according to a press release from the La Grange Police Department.

“The La Grange police, in cooperation with the Cook County Department of Homeland Security, investigated a report of a suspicious package left inside [the] St. Cletus Church,” the La Grange Village website said. “The package contained clothing and was determined to be non-threatening to the public.”  

The package was reported to the police around 3:15 p.m. Thursday after a white male dropped a duffle bag underneath the altar at St. Cletus and proceeded to leave the church. A janitor at the church approached the man who “offered only a peculiar explanation when questioned about what he was doing,” the press release said.

Once arriving and observing the bag, the police evacuated the premises and secured the area, blocking off the parking lot entrances and some of the surrounding streets.

At approximately 7:14 p.m.—almost four hours after the initial report—police began departing from the scene. Some police presence took a little longer to leave the premises, but eventually subsided.

According to the La Grange Police Department, however, the investigation is not over, as they are still pursuing the man who left the bag in the church.

“This is an ongoing investigation and based on evidence found at the scene a suspect has been developed,” the press release said. “The Investigations Division is attempting to locate the subject for further questioning.”

Authorities from La Grange, Countryside, Brookfield and La Grange Park were on scene, according to some observers. Additionally, the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and the Cook County Sheriff’s department were also present.

Anne Marcelli, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said that—despite only being a bag of clothing—she believes that “it is always good to be cautious” and that the caution was worth it in the end.

“I think that we were overly cautious in order to make sure that everybody in the area and in the church were safe,” Marcelli said. “Thankfully, it turned out not to be anything harmful, but we acted in an abundance of caution. We wanted to make sure we worked with the police to fully investigate it.”