Person of interest in custody as Baltimore County police investigate suspicious device at school, motel

BALTIMORE — A person of interest is in police custody after a suspicious device was found in a car near Pine Grove Middle School in Baltimore County.

Officers also investigated a suspicious device at a motel 20 miles away in Woodlawn. The suspicious device forced two Baltimore County schools to be evacuated. There was no threat to the community at that time, police said.

In a related investigation, Chopper 13 caught video of police focusing on a box outside one of the hotel rooms at the Rodeway Inn on Whitehead Court in Woodlawn.

Police blocked the surrounding roads and forced guests out of their rooms.

Chopper 13 flew over the Rodeway Inn as bomb squad officers used two robots to pull items out of the motel room. Shortly before 5 pm, officers went into the room to pull out more material.

Several hours later, Baltimore County Police were still trying to determine the motive behind the threat and what charges the person of interest could potentially face.

“We’re trying to figure out what the suspect actually intended and why they were in two separate areas,” Baltimore County Police Department spokesman Det. Trae Corbin told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday evening.

Officers had performed controlled measures to investigate the suspicious device, which created a loud boom on Tuesday afternoon.

Corbin declined to describe “the device” at the center of “the incident.”

“I can’t get into the specifics of the device, but our hazardous device teams have deemed that the device is no longer a threat to the community at this time,” he said.

Officers did not say how close the package was to the school. County police informed the public on social media when it had diffused the threat.

“You may have heard a loud noise in the area of ​​Pine Grove MS. This was a proactive controlled measure taken by the #BCoPD to address the suspicious package,” Baltimore County Police said on social media.

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Police responded to the intersection of Old Harford Road and Proctor Lane in Parkville. Officers were also investigating in the 1600 block of Whitehead Court.

Security Boulevard was also shut down from Woodlawn Drive to I-695. Police closed all of Whitehead Court, along Whitehead Road between Security and Whitestone roads.

Chopper 13 spotted police at the scene in Woodlawn operating a bomb robot.

The middle school students were taken to Parkville High School for reunification, and the elementary school students were taken to Loch Raven High School.

“Take them first to the elementary school as a staging area, from there being taken to the high school where parents will meet their children,” Baltimore County Schools spokesperson Charles Herndon said.

Police said all students are safe after they were evacuated out of caution.

School officials told WJZ they were able to quickly contact parents and get students out of the classrooms to safety.

Officials said school is expected to resume Wednesday.

“As far as we know we’ll have class tomorrow but we still have a lot of information to go through,” Herndon said. “Students and staff come first.”

Parents who heard about the evacuation went to the school to find roads blocked by police.

Garrett Marcus, whose son is a seventh grader at Pine Grove Middle School, said he wishes Baltimore County Public Schools communicated to parents faster than the news would.

“I appreciate that right now the kids are safe and that they got them out of the area, but communicate something to let us know so that you don’t have a million parents pulling up into one intersection, trying to find their kids, some of whom have multiple kids at two different schools,” Marcus said. “We live in a day and age of instant communication, where somebody could go and put out a message that says ‘there has been an incident we are aware of.'”

Herndon said he didn’t know how long it took to notify parents after they started evacuating, but that “we were pretty quick to get that information out there.”

“We got as much information out there as we could as quickly as we could,” Herndon said.

Another parent, who has a second and fourth grader at Pine Grove Elementary School, arrived at the scene in hospital scrubs.

His wife, who is interning at the middle school, called him at work to tell him what was happening.

“I left work to get down here and be here for my babies and my wife,” he said. “Just to get a phone call like that and being at work, I couldn’t function.”

A woman staying at the hotel said the police told her to leave.

She said she was asleep in her room when officers rushed her and all the other hotel guests two blocks away to Woodlawn/Security Blvd.

“Just grab only essentials and get out of here,” the woman said. “I was like, ‘are you kidding me?’ He said there was a bomb threat in this establishment nearby.”

Because of the police investigation, school buses will be late to the following schools:

  • Overlea High School
  • Parkville High School
  • Perry Hall High School
  • Parkville Middle School
  • Perry Hall Middle School
  • Carney Elementary School
  • Chapel Hill Elementary School
  • Gunpowder Elementary School
  • Harford Hills Elementary School
  • Honeygo Elementary School
  • Joppa View Elementary School
  • Kingsville Elementary School
  • Oakleigh Elementary School
  • Perry Hall Elementary School
  • Vincent Farms Elementary School
  • Seven Oaks Elementary School
  • Dogwood Elementary
  • Chadwick Elementary
  • Woodmoor Elementary
  • Arbutus Middle School
  • Southwest Academy
  • Woodlawn High School
  • Meadowood

Check back to wjz.com for updates on this developing story.