A Day of Fear & Precaution in So. Md. - Southern Maryland Headline News

A Day of Fear & Precaution in So. Md.

SOUTHERN MARYLAND (June 8, 2007) - Domestic terrorism in recent years has caused authorities to leave-little-to-chance when a security threat is perceived. Several American citizens have died due to anthrax that was received via the U.S. postal mail. Many more scares have been facilitated when envelopes bearing an unknown powder were received in mail rooms across the country. The country has also faced several incidents of terrorism in schools and colleges where one or more gunmen have killed or wounded students and faculty.

Today, there was a scare involving a letter that contained a "strange substance" that was received via the postal service at the Charles County Government Building. Calvert County officials also wrestled with locking down several schools when police alerted them to a "personal dispute" at a home in close proximity to a Huntingtown school.

This afternoon, Calvert County Public Schools offices were notified of a personal dispute at a home off of Lower Marlboro Road in Huntingtown. Law enforcement cordoned off the area on either side of the home. Principals were notified and staff was encouraged to have a heightened level of alert until the situation was resolved. School officials said that following consultation with law enforcement officials, it was determined that it was not necessary to place any Calvert County schools in lockdown.

"We will continue to keep our parents and community informed about our efforts to maintain the highest level of safety in our buildings," wrote Calvert County School officials in a statement released today.

At 12:01 p.m. today, it was reported by a Charles County government employee that a suspicious letter was in the Governmental Building's mail room that had remnants of a strange substance.

At least three employees came in contact with the envelope, according to authorities.

The Safety and Risk Management Office was immediately notified and the Sheriff's office was called to the scene. The mail room was immediately close and shuttered and the employees were isolated to another area of the building.

The Sheriff's office notified Fire & Rescue HAZMAT who responded to the scene within seven minutes

In an effort to protect everyone, the employees were moved to the building's auditorium. The auditorium air conditioning functions on a separate system. Some areas of the building were evacuated and the HVAC units were shut down.

HAZMAT entered the building and secured the evidence. A series of test were performed to ensure there was no danger. The report of "NEGATIVE" was issued at 1:25 p.m.

At 1:28 p.m. an 'all clear' was issued. The HAZMAT team removed the envelope (triple bagged the item). Its contents were handed to the Sheriff's Department at 1:35 p.m.

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