Maryland State House lockdown prompted by threatening call lifted, nothing suspicious found

Police officers are seen during a lockdown of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md. on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. The building was locked down for an undisclosed security threat. (AP Photo/Brian Witte.)(AP/Brian Witte)

Police locked down the Maryland State House for about two hours following an anonymous threat that prompted officials to close the legislative building and the surrounding area on Thursday evening.

Law enforcement officials gave the all clear to reopen the area just before 7 p.m. after sweeping the grounds of the State House, Senate and House buildings and surrounding area in Annapolis, according to a social media post from Maryland General Services — which includes Maryland Capitol Police.

Anyone who was still inside the buildings, including the governor, lieutenant governor and Senate president were escorted out per police protocol, officials said.

The Annapolis City Police Department reportedly received a call at around 5 p.m. from someone who threatened to target the Maryland State House, state police said. Maryland Capitol Police then put the Maryland State House, Government House and legislative office buildings under a lockdown, meaning people inside were asked to shelter-in-place.

Maryland Capitol Police, Maryland State Police, Anne Arundel County Police and security personnel helped search for any possible threat, including using police dogs to secure the area. Police cars were lined up outside the building, blocking roads that lead to a road that encircles the State House.

Annapolis Police Department spokesperson Bernie Bennett said officials didn’t receive any reports of violence at the State House and that no one had taken credit for the threat.

“You have to react to every threat as though it’s credible and serious,” he said.

Reporters, lawmakers among those who sheltered in place

After the all-clear was given by police, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore posted on social media thanking police for their response.

“These brave men and women aren’t just Maryland’s finest – they’re Maryland’s promise. They define what it means to be a Marylander,” Moore said in a post on X.

Senate President Bill Ferguson also posted to social media, thanking police and first responders.

Bryan Sears, a government reporter with Maryland Matters — which is a partner of WTOP News — was working inside of the State House when it locked down earlier Thursday evening.

It was around 5 p.m. when Sears said House Speaker Adrienne Jones’ chief of staff came into the press room and told him to lock the door.

“At that point, we turned all the lights off. There were a bunch of us hunkered down behind the desks and file cabinets, any place where we could sort of keep down low away from windows and doors,” Sears said.

Many people in the room texted loved ones; Sears said he first texted his wife to warn her of the lockdown before it was on the news.

“The second thing I did was texted a colleague of mine who was not in the building and told him to stay away, and then sent him my wife’s contact information just in case,” he said.

After around 30 minutes, Sears said armed police officers came to the door and evacuated people who were sheltering in place. After being evacuated, he said the group of reporters was asked to relocate to the House Office Building.

The threat came to a city that has suffered a mass shooting in the past. In 2018, a man burst into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis and fatally shot five people during a rampage.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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