HAZELTON, W.Va. –A 42-year-old man is in custody following the lengthy shutdown of Interstate 68, a West Virginia State Police spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
“As a result of the investigation based on a traffic stop that occurred earlier [Wednesday] 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,” according to a press release from a WVSP Spokesperson Capt. Shallon Oglesby.
Authorities did not release the name of the man in custody by Wednesday evening.
The suspect’s gray sedan, with Missouri license plates, passed Trooper First Class D.W. Satterfield, of the Bridgeport Detachment, going about 130 mph, according to the WVSP. The two were in the westbound lane and Satterfield stopped the car.
According to a release, the driver seemed stressed and confused; he made concerning statements causing Satterfield to believe there was an explosive device in the car. The man was removed from his car without incident and detained.
Three explosive detection K-9s with WVU Police alerted to the presence of explosive material in the car, the release said. Members of the WVSP Explosives Response Team searched the vehicle and did not find an explosive device. The car was towed away about 2:30 p.m. and the interstate was reopened.
The three-and-a-half hour shutdown closed all lanes of I-68 starting about 11 a.m. Wednesday. The vehicle was stopped near the Hazelton exit.
By 11:30 a.m., West Virginia Department of Transportation crews placed cones funneling all eastbound traffic off at Bruceton Mills, Exit 23.
From there, motorists could turn around and head back toward Morgantown, or taking W.Va. 26 north to Pennsylvania or south toward Kingwood.
Traffic on I-68 west was detoured before crossing from Maryland into West Virginia.
The BFS gas station at the Bruceton Mills exit was a hub of activity, and hearsay, as detoured motorists trickled in, all with one question — “What’s going on?”
Adam Heiser, a truck driver from Oklahoma, was making his way from Louisville to Philadelphia when he ran into the unexpected detour.
“Man, this is crazy,” he said. “I’m just trying to get down the road here to the Love’s truck stop. I don’t know what’s going on that’s got this whole thing shut down like this, but I’d say somebody is in some trouble.”
There were a number of law enforcement agencies on the scene, including the FBI. That agency was called in to assist by the WVSP, Catherine Policicchio, public affairs specialist, with the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office, said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Secret Service, Preston County Sheriff’s Department, Kingwood Police Department, West Virginia Department of Highways, Maryland State Highway Administration, Bruceton-Brandonville Volunteer Fire Department, Bruceton Ambulance Service, and Maryland State Police, and FBI were all thanked by the WVSP for their assistance.
Ben Conley, Will Dean and Alex Widerspiel contributed to this story.