Man in custody after suspicious packages found at four buildings in Hartford

HARTFORD - State and local police are still investigating after they got a 911 Wednesday morning for a report of a suspicious package containing white powder. They say one person is in custody as a result.

The powder was found in four different locations in Hartford and it was first discovered at 450 Main Street,  the Federal Courthouse.

The four areas included:

  • 450 Main Street,
  • 10 Columbus Boulevard
  • 450 Columbus Boulevard (Department of Education Building)
  • 21 Oak Street

These were all federal and state buildings. Police said approximately 35 people were evacuated at the Department of Education.

There was a heavy police presence when crews first arrived and men were dressed in hazmat suits. People were also evacuated at all four locations as a safety precaution.

"You don't see a bomb squad every day. You don't!" said Hartford resident Jeslynne Almonte.

Traffic was backed up all over Hartford during the afternoon hours as drivers were re-routed around the closed off areas.

Almonte said seeing the heavy police presence everywhere was shocking since it is something she does not see every day.

"They were parked up -- there were a lot of cop cars everywhere, like, everywhere," added Almonte.

Hours after the scenes were secured, police made an arrest. He has been identified as Gary Gravelle, a former psychiatric patient who has a history of threatening hospital workers and a judge in 2010.

Deputy Chief Harry Tulier said hazmat crews had to be extra careful in handling the powder given the nationwide Anthrax scare many years ago.

"Introduce yourself to the environment. You isolate the area so nobody comes in, nobody comes out. If there’s doors open, close the doors. If there’s H-vacuums shut them down. That way, you don’t cross contaminate in different areas," said Deputy Chief Harry Tullier of the Hartford Fire Department.

Since multiple manpower was required, Tullier said this put other emergency calls at risk.

"If this was done intentionally, it’s taxpayers money, it’s taxpayer’s resources, so it does tax us quite a bit," added Tullier.

State DEEP officials took samples of the powder to be tested and those results have not been made available yet.