A 45-year-old Abingdon man has been charged with a threat of mass violence after he allegedly insinuated to police Tuesday he had explosives in his vehicle at Prince of Peace Church in Edgewood.
Steven Michael Droter, of the 300 block of White Oak Drive, is also facing multiple theft charges after investigators determined the vehicle, a Penske box truck, had been reported stolen. Droter had rented the box truck Sept. 2 from the Edgewood Home Depot, but had not returned it, according to charging documents.
Droter remains held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center after a hearing in District Court Thursday afternoon.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to the Prince of Peace Church in the 2600 block of Willoughby Beach Road around 12:41 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, for a report of a suspicious vehicle.
When Droter was approached by deputies, he allegedly made statements that led them to believe he may have had explosives in the vehicle.
Droter allegedly asked a sheriff’s corporal if he knew anything about mercury switches — a type of electrical switch — then stated “I wonder why this hasn’t gone off yet,” the documents allege.
The corporal believed this was in reference to explosive devices.
After clearing Droter from the area, the corporal asked Droter if he had an explosive device, to which Droter said he didn’t know what the corporal was referring to, according to the documents.
The church and surrounding areas were evacuated and nearby schools placed on modified lockdown out of an abundance of caution, said Kyle Andersen, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Nineteen people were evacuated from the church, according to charging documents.
Willoughby Beach Road was also closed for several hours as investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshall and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms responded to the scene and cleared the vehicle. No explosives were located.
The sheriff’s Special Response Team also went to Droter’s address on White Oak Drive in Abingdon and cleared the apartment as well.
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Droter had been released from a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey on Aug. 1, according to charging documents. He was also served a final peace order the day prior to the incident in Edgewood, court records show.