DETROIT (AP) — An intense police search of Detroit City Hall and an adjacent building that houses some Wayne County courtrooms on Monday failed to turn up a man who was allowed through security before guards realized that he might have a gun.
Detroit police gave the all-clear about 3 p.m. at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Hours before, authorities had placed the buildings on lockdown, and hundreds of workers and visitors were evacuated as the Detroit Police Department's special response team and K-9 unit searched floor-by-floor, Sgt. Michael Woody told The Associated Press.
Police Chief James Craig had said there was no "active shooter" or any specific threat, but that an image of what could be a gun was spotted after a bag passed through a security machine. The building is a gun-free zone.
"It wasn't until they realized he might have a handgun that the suspect was already past the security checkpoint, got onto an elevator," Craig told reporters.
A private company, Securitas, handles security at the checkpoint, and Craig said there might have been a 45-minute delay before police were told about the security breach.
"The biggest concern is there was a breach," Woody said. "That's a huge concern, and then the multiple layers on top of that."
Woody said Detroit police will meet Tuesday with Securitas officials to "work out emergency plans." In July, uniformed Detroit police officers also will begin patrols of City Hall's first floor and other floors, Woody said, adding that no uniformed police officers were assigned Monday to the first floor.
The AP was unable to reach Securitas officials in Detroit late Monday afternoon.
A man seen on surveillance camera photos and originally considered a person of interest was identified Monday afternoon and interviewed by investigators, Woody said Monday night in a release.
"Officers made contact with this individual who met detectives at his attorney's office and he then provided a statement and was interviewed," Woody said. "At this time, we are excluding this person from further investigation."
Mayor Mike Duggan wasn't at City Hall Monday, but Craig said judges, City Council members and others were safely removed. City offices in the building were ordered closed throughout the day Monday, with normal operations expected to resume Tuesday, according to Duggan's office.
Andrew Sokoly, a member of Councilman Scott Benson's staff, told the Detroit Free Press he was in his office with a few other staffers a little before 9:30 a.m. when an announcement over the public address system said to stay inside and lock the door.
About an hour and 15 minutes after the lockdown was announced, Sokoly said there was loud knock on the door by a SWAT team member with a long rifle and tactical gear. He and other staffers were escorted out the building on a freight elevator.
"I felt pretty secure," Sokoly said.
City Hall and a county building that houses courtrooms and other public offices are connected with a common lobby. Melissa Thomas, 41, of Westland, was evacuated along with her grandson.
"They had us locked in office areas and told us to stay there until further instructions," Thomas told The Detroit News.