The Washington County Sheriff’s Department and New York State Police were dispatched to the Stewart’s Shop on State Route 40 in Hartford on March 18 for a suspicious person making comments about a “ticking” noise coming from a suspicious package.
At around 7:36 a.m., the Sheriff’s Department responded to the parking lot of the Stewart’s Shop to find a 44-year-old woman making “irrational statements” while holding a suspicious package.
“Deputies convinced the woman to set the package down and evacuated the immediate area out of an abundance of caution,” the Washington County Sheriff’s Department press release said. “The package was inspected and later deemed safe by members of the New York State Police Bomb Disposal Unit. The woman was transported to Glens Falls Hospital for evaluation.”
Hartford town supervisor Dana Haff said via phone he believed the “ticking” could have been referencing a bomb.
“I had reports of someone acting erratically and there was suspicion of a bomb,” Haff said.
A call to Stewart’s Shops’ corporate number did not provide any additional information.
“At this point, we’re unable to comment on the situation because it’s an active police investigation,” said corporate spokesperson Erica Komoroske.
After the scene was secured, the Sheriff’s Department said the portion of Route 40 between Rowe Hill Road and State Route 149 was cleared for travel.
Hartford Central School District was affected because of its close vicinity of the incident.
“We initiated what’s called a ‘lock-out’,” said Hartford school superintendent Andrew Cook. “Once that designation is made, nobody is allowed to enter the building and nobody is allowed to leave the building… We just want to ensure the protection of everybody inside the building.”
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department contacted Cook at 8:10 a.m. and alerted him of the situation. A “lock-out’” was coordinated as the most appropriate action, allowing instruction to continue as normal.
“I’m very proud of the way our school community responded to this,” Cook said. “The way our faculty, staff and students responded was exceptional.”
Cook recorded a statement and published it on Hartford’s social media and school website, taking a personal approach to the situation.
“As a parent of two young students in the district, I fully understand how troubling it is to receive this type of call from your child’s school,” he said. “As a parent, our first reaction is to protect our students and with limited information being provided, our desire to protect is extreme,” Cook said in a video message to the district. “The patience and faith that you displayed in our ability to ensure your child’s well-being is something we do not take lightly.”
Assisting on the call were the New York State Police, ENCON and the Hartford Fire Company.