Officials: Hazardous material at Berkeley Co. courthouse identified as heroin

Source: Live 5 News
Source: Live 5 News
Picture provided
Picture provided
Picture provided
Picture provided

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Officials with Trident Health Systems say a substance found at the Berkeley County courthouse that sent people to the hospital has been identified as heroin.

According to Berkeley County Government officials, more than five people were hospitalized after coming into contact with a substance at the holding cells at the courthouse on California Avenue.

Hazmat crews along with the bomb squad worked to obtain the substance and tested it.

Patients transported from the courthouse were not showing any ill effects.

The incident started at 1:38 p.m. when 911 dispatchers received a call for a fall with injuries in the holding cells of the courthouse.

"It is believed an unknown substance was inhaled and/or ingested by three individuals in the holding cell," said Michael Mule with Berkeley County government."When the guard approached the cell, the individual or individuals attempted to flush the substance."

Officials say at that time, the substance went airborne, and subsequently, EMS crews started to become symptomatic to the substance.

"The incident area was isolated and the entire courthouse was evacuated," Mule said. "It is unknown at this time how many people were potentially contaminated but they do include those in the holding cell as well as our emergency responders."

The courthouse was evacuated around 2 p.m. and closed for the remainder of the day.

Officials with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office say prisoners are searched before they are put into a cell, and all contraband items are removed from them.

According to BCSO officials, prisoners often conceal drugs and other contraband in areas that cannot easily be searched and in places that even the most thorough pat down will not reveal.

Motorists reported earlier that authorities had closed streets leading to the courthouse.

According to witnesses, hazmat crews and firefighters were spotted at the scene.

A viewer said she got to the courthouse around 2:45 p.m. and found the road blocked, and a lockdown was in effect.

The courthouse will resume normal operations on Wednesday and open at 9 a.m.

Anyone whose court date was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon should call the Berkeley County clerk at 719-4500 to reschedule an appearance.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.