Police find nothing suspicious in Merchant Square building

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

Police and fire crews found nothing suspicious in a Merchants Square building Monday where the Gloucester man in custody on charges of possession and use of an explosive device and committing an act of terrorism had performed HVAC work, according to Williamsburg Police.

“Out of concern, we brought people here to check the building and make sure that it was safe for the residents and the public," said Williamsburg Police spokesman Greg Riley.

Stephen James Powers, 30, of Hayes, who has been arrested following the detonation of an improvised explosive device and was denied bond Monday in court, had performed work in the last week on the HVAC system inside Binns, and had been in and out of the building multiple times, according to Binns vice president Thomas Smith. That’s what he said alarmed the business and prompted a call to police this afternoon.

"It wasn’t until we saw his picture released that we knew he was someone that had been coming in and out of the building,” Smith said. “He would stop by on a regular basis to just talk to employees and say hello and check on things.”

The city of Williamsburg issued a news release about Monday’s incident, citing a heat sensor alarm that the Williamsburg Fire Department had been alerted to.

"Given the events of last week and out of an abundance of caution, the area has been evacuated," the release states. "The area is being thoroughly inspected as a precautionary measure."

The area in front of Binns was cordoned off with police tape until about 5:30 p.m., but pedestrian traffic was still able to get up and down Duke of Gloucester Street.

Williamsburg Police, Williamsburg Fire Department, William and Mary Police, Colonial Williamsburg security and members of the Newport News Fire Department bomb squad were on the scene, Riley said.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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