HAZELTON, W.Va. — A 42-year-old man is in custody following the lengthy shutdown of I-68 as part of a investigation into threats made against the President of the United States and the Pentagon, a West Virginia State Police spokesperson confirmed.
“As a result of the investigation based on a traffic stop that occurred earlier this morning, it had been discovered that threats were made to kill the President of the United States and to blow up the Pentagon. A search of the vehicle revealed a firearm and an explosive powder. A 42-year-old male has been detained for questioning. WVSP in conjunction with the FBI and Secret Service are continuing to investigate.
The interstate has been reopened.”
The spokesperson did not identify the man in custody.
Interstate 68 closed at 11 a.m. Wednesday, only re-opening after a three-and-a-half hour shut down at the West Virginia-Maryland state line as a result of an “investigational traffic stop,” according to Trooper T. Nestor of the West Virginia State Police.
There were a number of law enforcement agencies on the scene including the FBI. That agency was called in to assist by the WVSP, Cathrine Policicchio, public affairs specialist, with the Pittsburgh Field Office, said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms “lent their expertise” to the investigation, according to a rep from the agency. He referred additional inquiries back to the West Virginia State Police.
A representative from the WVSP barracks in Kingwood expected the highway to be closed for at least two hours. It re-opened at 2:30 p.m.
Kendra Born, Preston County 911 supervisor, confirmed both lanes east and west bound were shut down during the course of the investigation.
A detour was set up eastbound at the Bruceton Mills exit, rerouting commuters onto Rt. 26 or back the other direction westbound on I-68, according to Dominion Post reporter Ben Conley.
“They’ve got cones set up kind of ushering you off I-68 at the Bruceton Mills exit, exit 23,” he said.
Conley, who is as close to the scene as he can get, said traffic was so backed up that he couldn’t see any flashing lights.
“I would say this exit is probably still miles from the actual incident, whatever is going on,” Conley said.
The incident originated as a traffic stop.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of people pulling off at the exit up here confused — asking what’s going on, talking to one another, trying to give each other directions,” he said. “I was just speaking with one lady who was on her way from Kentucky to Ocean City, and she’s just kind of sitting here stranded right now like a lot of folks.”
West Virginia State Police and the Preston County Sheriff’s Department responded, as did additional law enforcement agencies.
Alex Wiederspiel and William Dean contributed to this report