The Bryan County Courthouse was locked down and cordoned off early Monday afternoon after authorities said a package was received that contained an unknown powder-like substance.
Officials at the scene announced Monday evening that the substance, which has not been positively identified, was benign. A sample was taken to an Oklahoma City health department for more analysis.
Durant Fire Department responded at 12:21 p.m. after a court clerk’s deputy opened an envelope that contained a white powder. Upon arrival, firefighters learned that a deputy had put the substance in a room that was isolated from the offices.
According to a fire department report, everyone who came in contact with the envelope was quarantined and those who had been on the third floor of the courthouse were isolated on the courthouse lawn.
A hazardous-materials team from Ardmore arrived, and wearing protective suits, they entered the courthouse to obtain a sample of the substance for testing. Officials said tests determined the substance was not harmful.
While the 63rd Civil Support Team, a National Guard Unit from Norman was en route, a decontamination process was started on individuals who came into contact with the substance. Each individual was required to place their possessions in bio-hazard bags. Also, 13 civilians and a firefighter were sent to a decontamination tent set up outside the courthouse.
When the National Guard arrived, unit members also tested the substance. Although it was reported to be ibuprofen, officials said that has not been verified. Two National Guard soldiers also went through a decontamination process.
The courthouse and the its annex were on lockdown until just before 8 p.m. No one was allowed to leave until then, when authorities announced the substance was not dangerous.
A jury trial had started late that morning for Billy Wayne Engles, a convicted sex offender charged with loitering at Silo School.
Bryan County Sheriff Ken Golden said the package had been mailed and was first delivered to the courthouse annex several days ago before being brought Monday to the court clerk’s office.
“All of this was a precautionary measure,” Golden said. “We are extremely impressed with all of the people who showed up to help.”
Officials said this is an ongoing investigation that includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and more details could not be divulged. It was not revealed what, if anything else, was inside the package or whether it contained a threatening note.
Durant Fire Chief Roger Joines said this morning they should receive results on the substance in a couple of days.
Among other agencies responding were Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management, Bryan County EMS and Durant Police Department.