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Downtown Oklahoma City bomb scare reveals homeless problem at Cox Convention Center

When responding to a suspicious package, police encountered several homeless people living in the convention center.
By Kyle Hinchey, Staff Writer Modified: May 31, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: May 31, 2014

photo - The exterior of the Cox Convention Center. The Oklahoman Archives.
The exterior of the Cox Convention Center. The Oklahoman Archives.

Police responding to a bomb scare following a Thunder basketball game this week instead encountered what they say is a long-lingering problem at the Cox Convention Center.

The center, they say, is a haven for the homeless.

Located at 1 Myriad Gardens, directly across Reno Avenue from the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the convention center houses the city’s hockey arena and numerous exhibit halls and meeting rooms. Designed to allow easy and constant access for event organizers, it also makes it an easy spot for homeless to take shelter.

After Tuesday evening’s basketball game between the Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs, a police officer found a suspicious package on the concourse walkway bridge connecting the Cox Center and the Renaissance Hotel. Police eventually determined the package wasn’t a bomb. Instead, it was a bag containing a homeless man’s belongings.

Police arrested the man on suspicion of public intoxication.

Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said it’s common for the homeless to sneak into the locked convention center after business hours, sometimes using a parking garage elevator. Others wait for someone to leave the building and then slip through the closing door, he said.

Once inside, it’s difficult to locate someone in the vast building.

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