State officials said it was safe to return to the Maryland State House Tuesday evening, about two hours after the building was evacuated for a bomb threat.

An emergency notice went out at 4 p.m. to people subscribed to the State House complex’s new alert system.

“Maryland General Assembly Alert: State House BOMB THREAT,” the message read. “Please evacuate the area immediately and please head home. Do not return. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

A similar recorded message was made to phone numbers subscribed to the system. A later message added: “Police are currently investigating, out of an abundance of caution please avoid the State House complex.”

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A message saying the threat was over was sent at 5:42 p.m.


Further information about the threat was not immediately available.

It’s unclear how many people were working or visiting the State House complex on Tuesday. Many in the political world were not at their official jobs, instead using personal time to work on election campaigns. Tuesday was Maryland’s presidential primary election.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore was not in the State House when the bomb threat came in.

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Moore had a meeting of his “performance cabinet” in the State House earlier in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m., but by 5 p.m. he was scheduled to be in Hyattsville in Prince George’s County for a campaign event with U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks.

House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson also were not at the State House during the threat.

Maryland General Assembly leaders had been working for months on the alert system, work that became higher-profile following a shooting threat that was made in late February, during the height of the annual legislative session.

The system had been tested, but Tuesday’s alert marked the first use of the system for an actual emergency.

A man called police on Feb. 29, saying he had a gun and planned to shoot people, prompting the State House to be shut down for two hours. People inside the building at first sheltered in place, and then were escorted out by police officers carrying long guns.

Experts said that threat had all the hallmarks of a “swatting” incident, in which someone makes a bogus threat for the purpose of drawing a large police and emergency response.

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County.

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