2022 | Police & Fire

Man charged with making bomb threat that resulted in evacuation at Wheaton apartment building

He was speaking ‘erratically’ about government equipment being taken from his apartment, county  police say

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An apartment building in Wheaton was temporarily evacuated on Thursday after a man said there was a bomb in the building, according to authorities. The bomb squad found a "suspicious-looking device" and eventually determined it did not contain explosives.

Photo by Dan Schere

A man has been charged with making a bomb threat Thursday morning at the Arrive Wheaton apartment building at 11215 Georgia Ave. in Wheaton, which forced the evacuation of some residents.

Amir Paul, 35, is facing charges of making a threat of mass violence, threat of arson and disorderly conduct, among others. Court records indicate that he lives in the building where he made the bomb threat.

According to charging documents, officers were first called to the apartment Wednesday after Paul was seen “acting in a disorderly manner,” which included yelling while in the leasing office and refusing to leave. Additionally on Wednesday, Paul was “speaking erratically about multiple topics,” including saying that he worked for the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and that there was “unknown government equipment being taken from his apartment.”

When an officer asked if Paul wanted to hurt himself or others, Paul answered “no,” according to documents. Because Paul did not present a danger at that time, the officer did not conduct a petition for emergency evaluation, according to documents.

On Thursday police were called to Paul’s apartment around 6:18 a.m. and police say 911 callers reported that Paul was pacing the hallways on the 8th floor, yelling that there was a bomb in the apartment, documents state. Callers also told authorities that Paul had intentionally pulled the fire alarm.

After more than 50 residents were evacuated from the building, police said Paul was still yelling loud enough to be heard over the sound of the county fire engines that had responded to the scene, according to documents. Police eventually arrested him after several attempts by Paul to resist being taken into custody, documents state.

The portion of Georgia Avenue near the building was closed during the investigation on Thursday.

While the building was evacuated, county fire investigators searched the building and Paul’s unit. In his unit they found a “suspicious-looking device” described in charging documents as a “metal lock box with a 9-volt battery attached to the top.” An x-ray by the bomb squad gave an “inconclusive” result as to whether the device contained explosive material, according to documents. Authorities then “disrupted” the device in order to open it safely, and determined it did not contain explosive material, documents state.

After the building was determined to be safe, residents who were sheltering at the nearby Wheaton Library and Recreation Center were allowed to return.

Court records indicated that Paul is being held without bond. No attorney information was listed as of Friday afternoon.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com