An unusual package accompanied by a rambling letter prompted the temporary evacuation Monday of a Wilmington building that contains an honorary consulate for Belize.
Belizean Honorary Consul Ed Paul Jr. said Monday the discovery has prompted an investigation by both federal and local authorities. When Paul went to work Monday morning, he called for police after finding a bulky package.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Paul would not say more about the package's contents, where exactly it was found or whether it was mailed or dropped off.
Wilmington police evacuated the two-story office building at 1135 Military Cutoff Road, which primarily contains doctors' offices and has a New Hanover Regional Medical Center name and logo on the building's exterior.
By 8 a.m., workers in scrub suits milled about outside the building, some still sipping their morning coffee. Officers blocked off the parking lots with their cruisers and told arriving patients they could not enter the building. The Wilmington Police Department sent its bomb squad as an EMS truck waited in a nearby parking lot.
At 9:23 a.m., the police robot entered the building with an officer in body armor. The robot came out of the building at 9:47 a.m., without the package. Police let people go back into the first floor shortly after 10 a.m., and reopened the entire building around 11 a.m.
Cpl. Kevin Smith, a police spokesman, told reporters the package contained no device but there was “suspicious writing.”
The presence of the consulate, he said, was “another factor in our enhanced response.”
San Pedro, Belize, is a sister city of Wilmington. Paul, a local optometrist, has been an honorary consul for Belize for seven years. An accredited diplomat, he assists Belizians in the Southeast with issues with passports and visas.
“We've never had a suspicious package,” he said. “We've never had a credible threat. It was very, very unusual.”
On Monday, he was in contact with Belize's embassy in Washington, D.C., and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the U.S. State Department.
The letter and package will be investigated, he said.
“There's enough substance here that the issue's not being dropped,” he said.