A Morehead City hotel was back open and an area Marine was in custody Monday afternoon after an alleged suicide threat apparently involving chlorine caused the evacuation of the business.
William Edward O’Brian, 20, who is stationed at Camp Lejeune, was taken into custody by Craven County deputies and transferred to Morehead City Police Department, where he was being processed Monday evening, said Morehead City Maj. Garland Terry.
Terry said O’Brian faces four charges, including damage to property, possession of a synthetic cannabis (spice), possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with a fire suppression system.
Terry said the case is still under investigation and detectives are still working to piece together the details of the day’s events, which began with a 911 call regarding a possible suicide threat involving chlorine gas.
Morehead City police and fire departments responded to the possible suicide threat and hazardous materials incident at the Hampton Inn on U.S. 70, known locally as Arendell Street.
Terry said a third party made the 911 call to communications in Onslow County and Onslow County contacted Morehead City authorities.
O’Brian was no longer in the room when police arrived.
“He spent the night from last night until this morning but was not there when we arrived,” Terry said.
The hotel was evacuated and police spent several hours searching the hotel and the surrounding area for the suspect. Terry said bulletins were sent out to law enforcement agencies regarding the search for O’Brian.
Morehead City Police Chief Wrenn Johnson said the initial report they received around 9:45 a.m. was of a possible suicide attempt using chemicals.
“The initial call was a suicide attempt in progress, and that was our initial response,” Morehead City Police Chief Wrenn Johnson said. “The only information we were given is there was possibly some chlorine in the room and that the possible suicide attempt was possibly going to be chemical.”
The police department’s tactical team conducted the search of the hotel and nearby area, and hazardous materials teams from the Morehead City Fire Department and from Cherry Point were on the scene.
Terry said spice and containers for various chemicals were located in the room but he did not have details on whether the containers had chemicals in them or what type they may have been.
He said the hotel room was damaged, but the incident was confined to one room and the building. The hotel reopened Monday afternoon after it was determined it was safe to do so.
During the incident, police cordoned off the area that includes the hotel and two restaurants. The Bistro by the Sea did not open until dinner time but the Taco Bell was closed for much of the day.
Terry said neither restaurant was in any danger but the area was used as a staging area for emergency response activities.