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All clear after Horry Co. Judicial Center evacuated

(WPDE)

Some Horry County Government and Justice Center employees had to be decontaminated after someone mailed a suspicious letter to the solicitor's office, according to Horry County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brooke Holden.

The building was closed for the day around 1 p.m., and most staff members were told to go home shortly after. Many stuck around because they left their bags and car keys inside the building.

"All of a sudden the bell goes off, and they asked us to evacuate," Codie Johnson, who drove four hours for a court session, recalled.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said the letter arrived Friday morning, and was opened by one of his front desk staffers about an hour before the alarm sounded.

The Sheriff’s Office which is located just down the hall from Richardson, opened an investigation and called City of Conway Fire Department Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Unit.

Horry County Fire Rescue, Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue, and the FBI were called in to assist in the investigation.

A HAZMAT team tested the package and determined it wasn't a threat around 4:15, Conway Fire Chief Lee Hendrick said.

He said another test would be done to determine what the material found on the letter was but couldn't describe it further.

He said it was the first time his HAZMAT team had to be called in two years.

He said his team waited for a backup team to be ready to move in before any tests were done.

"[Considering] the location of the substance and all the parties involved, I think it was a pretty expedited process," Hendrick told reporters.

As for the investigation into who sent the letter, Hendrick said the Sheriff's Office would be handling the investigation.

Nick Papantonis contributed to this report.


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