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Aspen bombs wrapped like Christmas gifts, police say

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01/01/2009 02:15 PM
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Aspen bombs wrapped like Christmas gifts, police say
Aspen bombs wrapped like Christmas gifts, police say

[link to www.cnn.com]

ASPEN, Colorado (CNN) -- A man delivered bombs wrapped as Christmas presents to two banks Wednesday along with notes threatening "mass death" if they did not turn over tens of thousands of dollars, Aspen police said Thursday.

Surveillance camera photo supplied by Aspen police shows the man identified as James Blanning.

1 of 2 Authorities were quickly alerted, and the man apparently halted his plan -- leaving two bombs in an alley that were likely intended for other banks, police said.

The man, identified as James Blanning, 72, who had had previous contacts with law enforcement, was later found dead after apparently shooting himself, police said.

His body was found in his car in a rural area east of Aspen.

The incidents Wednesday sparked the evacuation of a 16-block area of Aspen on New Year's Eve, one of the busiest days of the year for businesses in Aspen.

Bomb squads ultimately detonated the devices, and no one was injured.

Evacuation orders were lifted early Thursday.

But substantial business was lost Wednesday evening, according to a report in the Rocky Mountain News. Watch a "surreal situation" in Aspen »

"This has got to be the worst for us ... outside the Fourth of July, this is the cash cow of all cash cows," the newspaper quoted the on-call manager of the Molly Gibson Lodge in Aspen as saying. "Most of the restaurants are going to be terribly hurt."

"People are losing so much money -- it's crazy," said Monique Wagner, front desk clerk at the Hyatt Grand Hotel, told the newspaper.