MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Evacuation efforts in Middletown ended nearly seven hours after police say a man was in possession of “weapons of mass destruction” Wednesday evening.
Bomb squad, federal, state and local police had their hands full Wednesday evening when they responded to the area of North Union and North Spring Streets.
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Police charged 44-year-old Joseph McClure of Middletown with Weapons of Mass Destruction – Unlawful Possession or Manufacturing, Risking Catastrophe and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.
The criminal complaint said McClure was in possession of several explosive substances and chemical compounds and solutions to create explosives with lab equipment, including a compound found in military-grade explosives.
McClure had these chemicals and substances in a home lab on North Union Street. Police say these explosives could have resulted in catastrophic damage to the area.
McClure was contacted by police and agents of the Dept. of Homeland Security relating to an investigation in him having items in the mail related to lab activity, such as glassware.
McClure said he had these items to protect himself from “apocalyptic scenarios,” knowing the apartment and surrounding areas would be in danger of injury and death.
Evacuees were escorted to the borough hall just down the street but residents were allowed to return to their homes around 10:30 p.m.
One woman said she learned of the situation from her son’s daycare nearby where she had to leave work to pick him up.
“They tell us when there’s an incident not to be concerned but the daycare is telling us otherwise and to pick up our kids right away I’m not too sure how we can’t be too concerned if there’s an immediate need to pick up our child,” Tierra Hopple, a neighbor in Middletown, said.
McClure admitted he possessed these items even though he was not trained in how to use them. He was denied bail and is being held at Dauphin County Prison. His hearing is scheduled for September 22.
In 2006, McClure was sentenced to serve 24 months for charges of Terroristic Threats and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. In 2011, he was sentenced to 12 months for Terroristic Threats with Intent to Terrorize Another.
McClure also faced two previous DUI convictions.
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