Connecticut Avenue was closed near the National Zoo for about three hours Friday evening and an apartment building was evacuated after a suspicious package was reported, authorities said. Police said no hazardous materials were found.
Police reopened the road, which had been blocked between North Road and Cathedral Avenue, around 8 p.m. Residents said that a short time later they were permitted to reenter the Parkwest apartment building in the 2900 block of Connecticut Avenue NW, which had been evacuated. Residents said they were told there was no longer any threat; police did not immediately provide additional details.
The incident began to unfolded around 5 p.m. Paul Ollig, a 45-year-old park ranger, lives at the Parkwest, where residents were told a scheduled apartment inspection was taking place Friday afternoon. (Ollig’s seventh-floor apartment was inspected at about 4:30 p.m.)
As Ollig was leaving the building to get sushi shortly after 5 p.m., he saw police officers streaming into the building. By the time he returned from dinner, officers were evacuating the building and telling residents to walk south.
One officer told Ollig they were responding to a report of a suspicious package. Another officer called out to “keep those people moving. Get them as far away as possible.” Ollig heard from another resident of his building that officers were asking about a specific apartment in the building.
Ollig asked how long they would be unable to return to their apartments, and an officer told him, “It’s going to be awhile,” he said. Ollig waited at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Woodley Road NW alongside a couple dozen other residents from the blocked-off street.
Nicole Martin, 25, lives on the sixth floor of Parkwest and was told to evacuate her apartment with her orange and brown bunny, Glen. Officers knocked on her door and told her to exit the building and avoid using the elevators. Residents were initially waiting at Cathedral and Connecticut, but officers told them to keep moving.
Martin, a graduate student at American University, said she has heard from other residents that officers were focusing on an apartment on the seventh floor.
“That makes me really creeped out,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s just a false alarm, but who knows?”
Makayla Lovett, an employee of the 7-Eleven in the 3000 block of Connecticut said police advised the staff to lock the doors and stay out of sight. As the street was being shut down, she said, police escorted pedestrians out of the area; “Police were like ‘everybody needs to go,’” she said.
Joseph Motta, a 24-year-old legal assistant who lives at 2900 Connecticut Avenue, across the street from the Parkwest, said he was able to walk home from the Metro at about 6 p.m. but that police later were not letting residents leave through the front door of his building.
“I was planning to go to dinner with friends,” he said. But instead he, his friends and his roommate were stuck inside.
Yasmin Rowhani, owner of Lillies restaurant and bar in the 2900 block of Connecticut, said about 8:15 p.m. that the street had reopened. She said that no diners were there when the incident started, but that customers had begun to arrive.
“I have people here now,” she said.
Michael E. Ruane, Martin Weil, Clarence Williams, Peter Hermann and Robbie DiMesio contributed to this report.