January 7, 2011

Exploding package sent to governor goes off in Annapolis

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By Abby Rogers and Felicia Howard
Abby@MarylandReporter.com and Felicia@MarylandReporter.com

At about 12:15 p.m. Thursday, a package addressed to Gov. Martin O’Malley caused a small explosion in the mailroom of the Jeffrey Building in Annapolis. But it didn’t seem to cause a stir at the State House a few hundred yards away.

O’Malley told reporters after a speech in Cambridge Thursday night that the package contained a note objecting to the highway signs directing motorists to report suspicious activity.

Greg Shipley holds a picture of the exploding letter

Greg Shipley of the Maryland State Police Department, holds a picture of the exploding letter sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley on Thursday.

The General Assembly’s 428th Legislative Session doesn’t start until next week, and Annapolis’s legislative office buildings are like a ghost town now.

Mailroom staff in the Jeffrey Building at 16 Francis Street, however, were busy sorting letters and packages for the governor and General Assembly members on Thursday.

A mailroom employee who was handling the package reported a flash of fire and smoke when opening the package, said Greg Shipley, communications director for the Maryland State Police Department.

About 50 employees were evacuated from the building, which houses the offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of State, as well as the staff of the governor’s StateStat program. The package was contained and the mailroom in the building’s basement was quarantined, Shipley said.

The mailroom employee did not seek medical attention.

Just a half-block away in the State House, not many people were aware of the scare until after all the commotion had ended. Once word got around to security and other offices in the building, the mailroom was shut down.

Speaker of the House Michael Busch, who said he was kept informed, said that he wasn’t expecting any mail.  “Not unless people were upset with their committee assignments,”  he joked.

The mailroom was also shut down at the Maryland Department of Transportation office in Hanover when an employee found the day’s second incendiary package. The package was reported at about 12:45 p.m. The employee experienced a small flash of fire and smoke, similar to the earlier incident at the Jeffrey Building.

More suspicious packages closed streets Thursday afternoon in downtown Baltimore.

All state offices quarantined their mailrooms after the incidents.

While he said he wants to be business as usual, Shipley said he doesn’t know how the day’s events affected state offices preparations for the session.

O’Malley said there would likely be greater screening of incoming mail.

Len Lazarick in Cambridge contributed to this story.

  • Len Lazarick

    This is a test of the new comment feature. It’s great to have Abby and Felicia on board.