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Governor Evacuates State House, Declares State of Emergency

By Christopher Sherman
Capital News Service
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001
; Web-posted 8:35 p.m. and updated at 10:05 p.m.

Correction

This updates the 8:35 p.m. version of this story to note that the State House threat was a hoax. It also adds details on an arrest for the hoax and corrects the number of Maryland facilities said to be on the alleged "terrorist list."

ANNAPOLIS - The historic State House was evacuated just after 
noon Tuesday when Gov. Parris N. Glendening's office received a threat that the state complex was one of three facilities in Maryland on a terrorist list.

The threat -- that the State House, the World Trade Center in Baltimore 
and Andrews Air Force Base appeared on a list of 11 targets sent to a federal 
agency in the past few days -- turned out to be a hoax. A Baltimore man was 
arrested at his home Tuesday night by state police and FBI agents and charged 
with one count of making a false report of a crime.

By the time the State House was evacuated, a Maryland state of 
emergency had already been declared in the wake of attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.
Stadium Place Plans
 Baltimore's World Trade Center was one of several state buildings closed after Tuesday's attack.
(Photo by Kim Harris)

The state of emergency reduced personnel at all state agencies to 
essential staff, gave local school boards authority to close schools at their 
discretion and placed the National Guard on standby.

Maryland government continued from the State Emergency Operations Center 
in Reisterstown, where the governor convened his Cabinet and determined the 
state's response to the nearby terror.

The state of emergency declaration allows the governor to free state 
resources, said Quentin Banks, information officer at the Maryland Emergency 
Management Agency.

The Maryland National Guard's military police unit was federalized, 
putting it under the control of the Department of Defense. It is awaiting orders 
to mobilize.

The hospital ship, USS Comfort, docked in Baltimore, was sent to Norfolk, Va., to stock medical supplies before heading to New York to participate in the 
recovery effort.

About 100 people from the Montgomery County Urban Search and Rescue unit joined three other search and rescue teams dispatched to the Pentagon. The 
county unit had also participated in the Oklahoma City bombing recovery operations.

Montgomery County members of the National Medical Response Team also 
responded to the Pentagon.

Downtown Annapolis was ordered shut down by midday; the U.S. Naval 
Academy raised its threat condition three times throughout the morning. 

Quiet streets replaced normally bustling lunchtime activity in downtown 
Annapolis, where shopkeepers were more concerned about the attacks than about losing the afternoon's business. "Business we can do another time," said Joyce Kaminkow, owner of Annapolis Country Store.

Jammed phone lines were one indicator that people had more important 
things on their minds. "Everyone is trying to reach their loved ones," said Brenda Raney, a Verizon spokeswoman, who compared Tuesday's call volume to Mother's Day.

"All of our networks on the East Coast are experiencing unprecedented call 
volume, and that means it takes longer for everyone to get through," Raney said.

In Baltimore, the local FBI was mobilized, but at least one agent shared 
the general public's shock. "We're all watching television...in total disbelief," said Special Agent Peter Gulotta, an FBI spokesman.

Tuesday afternoon, Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Southern Maryland was at full power. "We've taken appropriate actions to ensure the continued safety of Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant," said spokesman Karl Neddenien.

Glendening was just arriving at the Renaissance Hotel in Baltimore to give 
remarks at a state roundtable when he heard of the first attack in New York 
City. After finishing his remarks and hearing of the attack on the Pentagon he 
left for Annapolis, where he spent the morning meeting with advisers.

Just before noon, as the governor was preparing for a television interview 
in the House of Delegates Chamber, the building was swiftly evacuated.
Glendening spoke to the press minutes later across the street from the 
State House in a grassy area known as Lawyers' Mall.

"It's both complex and confusing right now," the governor said, urging 
Marylanders to remain calm.

Glendening spoke with New York Gov. George Pataki (R), Virginia Gov. Jim 
Gilmore (R) and District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams (D), offering any assistance he could provide.

A spokeswoman said Glendening planned to spend the night at Government 
House, the governor's mansion.

Shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, state police and FBI agents arrested Quentin 
L. Johnson, 22, of Baltimore, and charged him with making the false report that 
Annapolis was on a terrorist target list.

Police said Johnson, who had briefly served in the military, called the 
State Emergency Operations Center about 11 a.m. and claimed to be a former 
federal official who had seen reports of a possible terrorist attack Tuesday, 
with the three Maryland sites listed as potential targets.

Authorities took the call seriously at the time, but later tracked it to 
Johnson, who they said was questioned at his home for about 90 minutes and 
confessed to the hoax around 7:15 p.m.

Officials said they do not know of a motive for the hoax. Johnson faces a 
misdemeanor charge of making a false report of a crime.

CNS staff writers Carolyn Taschner and Kristyn Peck contributed to this report.

Copyright 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism


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