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2 Packages Ignite In Md. Gov’t Buildings; Others ‘Unfounded’

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BALTIMORE/HANOVER, Md. (WJZ/AP) – The suspicious package found at the state office building on Preston Street has officially been cleared by police.

Nothing dangerous has been found there or at Mitchell Courthouse, where the package turned out to be a box of toner cartridges.

A heavy police presence rolled onto Preston Street following the discovery of a suspicious package in the O’Connor State Office Building in downtown Baltimore. Members of the police department tactical team and bomb squad were on the scene.

Alex DeMetrick Reports From Baltimore:

The mailroom was evacuated, but other employees were not affected. Still, a number of streets were shut down because the package resembled two incendiary devices that ignited in state buildings in Anne Arundel County.

“I was just informed by the Baltimore Police Hazardous Materials division that this incident is unfounded,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Baltimore City police spokesperson. “The box delivered to the state office complex was a box of laptop batteries.”

But while all is clear in downtown Baltimore, that was not the case when two packages sent to two state buildings in Anne Arundel County created a small flash of fire, smoke and an odor when they were opened. Those cases did not cause any serious injuries.

State officials initially said the two packages exploded, but later said there were no blasts.  One of the packages was addressed to Governor Martin O’Malley.

Fire officials initially responded to a report of an explosion in Hanover at the Department of Transportation headquarters.

Derek Valcourt Reports On The Incident:

Officials say the incident happened in the 7200-block of Corporate Center Drive around 1 p.m. Thursday. The package under investigation was addressed to the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Mike Hellgren Reports From The Maryland Department Of Transportation:

The building was evacuated. Employees were cleared around 4:30 p.m. to go back in, and the building will be open for business Friday.

Several people were transported to the hospital as a precaution, but their injuries are believed to be minor.

Captain Mike Perry Reports:

Meanwhile, a Maryland State House mailroom employee was injured early Thursday afternoon while handling a package addressed to the governor around 12:30 p.m. It happened at the Jeffrey Building on Francis Street in Annapolis and is being investigated by various agencies.

Pat Warren Reports From The Scene In Annapolis:

The mailroom employee had minor burns to his hands and refused treatment. The Jeffrey Building was evacuated, but employees have since been allowed back into the building.

Maryland State Police Spokesman Greg Shipley says mailrooms at state offices across Maryland are being quarantined Thursday until it is determined if any other packages have been sent.

Shipley says the packages were small, describing them as about the size of a book. Shipley says the packages did not cause any damage to the buildings.

Greg Shipley Talks To WJZ:

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger told WJZ one of the packages did have a return address that was traced to a Washington, D.C. parking garage.

Dutch Ruppersberger Talks To WJZ:

The FBI’s joint terrorism task force was assisting in the investigation, Shipley said, adding that the state fire marshal and a number of other law enforcement agencies also responded to the two scenes.

A Homeland Security Department official said the department was aware of the incidents and monitoring them.

New Jersey state police also said they had notified agencies across the Garden State about what had happened, saying it was part of normal protocol when such incidents occur. The New Jersey agencies were advised to be “extra vigilant” in handling mail and packages.

Local first responders used FBI guidelines to investigate the suspicious packages.

The FBI says there are a large number of packages that continue to be mailed around the country. And any threat—even if there is nothing in the package— is a federal crime.

Suzanne Collins Reports:

Local first responders are to call in the FBI weapons of mass destruction coordinator.  Hazmat crews must first assess the danger and public health officials must assess the threat to the public.

CBS Homeland Security Expert Bob Orr:

Baltimore City Fire Chief Kevin Cartwright Talks About Suspicious Package:

Stay with WJZ.COM for the latest on this developing story.

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