Police say no evidence found of alleged active shooter;  investigation continues

The LaMotte Company at 802 Washington Ave. in Chestertown shut down Thursday night, Jan. 14 after two employees received a text message saying there was an active shooter on-site. The threat appears to have been a hoax, according to police.

CHESTERTOWN — A reported threat of an active shooter at a Chestertown manufacturer on Thursday night appears to be unfounded, according to the preliminary police investigation.

In an interview over the phone, Chestertown Police Chief John Dolgos said no shooter or weapons were located at LaMotte Company after a K-9 unit searched the building and all employees on the 3 to 11 p.m. second shift were patted down as they were being sent home.

Out of an abundance of caution, the business located in the 800-block of Washington Avenue was shut down for the night. It reopened Friday at 7 a.m. without incident, according to Dolgos. 

He said the investigation is continuing.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Chestertown Police Department at 410-778-1804.

LaMotte Company, an industry leader in field-testing products for water and soil analysis, celebrated its centennial in 2019. The company moved from Baltimore to its current location in 1956.

According to the preliminary investigation, two LaMotte employees reported receiving a text message at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, telling them that there were active shooters on-site and that this should be taken seriously.

The texter identified himself as Dolgos, police were told.

The Chestertown Police Department and Kent County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene.

The Kent-Queen Anne's Rescue Squad, whose headquarters is located nearby in the 100-block of Morgnec Road, was on standby. 

After speaking initially to the shift supervisor, police contacted a LaMotte senior official, said Dolgos, who responded to the scene.

The decision was made to shut down for the night and re-open Friday morning, "unless more information was received that there was a threat," Dolgos said.

"We take this very seriously," Maria Coakley, the company's vice president of human resources, told the Kent County News on Friday.

"These are very serious offenses — impersonating a police officer, disrupting business and scaring people — and they all carry penalties," she said.

As part of the initial investigation Thursday night, all employees there at the time — Dolgos estimated the number at 30 — were patted down for possible concealed weapons as they exited the building.

They were very cooperative, "with no issues or complaints," Dolgos said.

Also, Cpl. James Walker and K-9 Oxan of the Chestertown Police Department thoroughly searched the building, which includes a 9,000-square foot addition completed in 2018, a warehouse, and production and test strip lab.

The local law enforcement response included Dolgos, Walker and three others from the CPD and two deputies from the sheriff's office.

The scene was cleared at 9:45 p.m., Dolgos said.

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