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Evacuation of Carroll County government building lifted; substance on suspicious package deemed ‘non-harmful’

Hazardous materials crews determined a “suspicious package” containing a powder-like substance that led to the evacuation of Carroll County government’s main office building Monday to be harmless.

The 225 N. Center Street office building in Westminster, home to Carroll County government, was deemed safe after initial testing of the substance by hazardous material crews found it was “non-harmful,” according to a 2 p.m. news release from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. The release noted the package was sent to a laboratory for additional testing and that no illnesses or injuries have been reported.

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Hazmat crews, firefighters and police officers were called to the building at approximately 11:38 a.m. to investigate a suspicious package opened in the county commissioners’ third floor office.

County staff evacuated at about 12:15 p.m. and returned to the building around 1:45 p.m. Quarantined staff remained inside the building, according to Chris Swam of the communications office.

Shortly before 1 p.m., Commissioner Stephen Wantz was inside the county office building with the package. He described via text message there being a substance similar to powdered sugar on the package, which was addressed to a county staff member.

“We heard there was a hazmat. ... We were just told to evacuate," said Bonnie Staub, who exited the building with about a dozen other county staff shortly after noon.

Four emergency responders slipped on protective white suits and entered the building at about 1 p.m. About an hour later, four emergency responders without white suits exited the building, one of them carrying a black garbage bag. Three of the four exiting the building appeared to be the same people who entered.

Units from the Sheriff’s Office, Westminster police and firefighters from Reese, Westminster and Baltimore County responded. Baltimore County sent two hazardous materials units to support Carroll County’s crew.

Swam said staff were told during evacuation to return at 1:30 p.m. The Carroll County main office building is open for business as of a 2:20 p.m. county news release.

The investigation is continuing and anyone with information should contact the Det. Ehrhart at Carroll County Sheriff’s Office at 410-386-5900.

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This story will be updated.

First responders stand ready to provide support at Carroll County Office Building on Monday after a suspicious package with a powder-like substance was received.
First responders stand ready to provide support at Carroll County Office Building on Monday after a suspicious package with a powder-like substance was received.(Mary Grace Keller/Carroll County Times)
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