Saturday, 2:15 PM
Beacon Hill apartments evacuated after woman pours substance on floors
(John Bohn/Globe Staff)
Boston firefighters, along with a hazardous materials team, gathered outside a Temple Street residence where a woman barricaded herself inside an apartment after pouring some sort of chemical substance on the floors.
By John M. Guilfoil and Jeannie Nuss, Globe Correspondents
A team of environmental specialists descended on a brownstone in Beacon Hill this morning where a SWAT team stormed the apartment of a 50-year-old woman who had barricaded herself inside with a cache of chemicals.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for evaluation. Police said she has not been charged with a crime. Two building trustees for the brownstone on Temple Street described her as a former chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who kept to herself.
The standoff prompted the evacuation of several apartments directly behind the State House after the woman allegedly poured ammonia or some type of chemical over the floors of her apartment.
A police SWAT team arrived early this morning and entered the building. The team eventually broke into the woman's apartment with full hazmat gear and forced her from the residence.
"We don't want to take chances, that's why we took the proper procedures," Boston Police Superintendent Rafael Ruiz said.
According to Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald, the call came in at about 9 p.m. to go to the fourth floor of the apartment building on Beacon Hill.
Upon arrival, firefighters opened the door to the apartment, but the woman hid. They believe, from the substances they saw, that she has a knowledge of chemicals.
"Any time you have someone who knows what they're doing with chemicals, it can be a bad situation," Deputy Fire Chief Robert Calobrisi said.
They said they did not see or make contact with the woman, but backed off and allowed police to try to negotiate with her. Natural gas service in the building was shut off as a precaution. No other buildings in the neighborhood were affected.
MacDonald said the severity of the spills and the odor coming from the apartment resulted in responders declaring a Level 2 hazmat situation, in which only responders wearing airmasks were allowed on the scene.
Police said the ammonia odor was consistent with some sort of chemical lab, but they have not determined if drugs were involved.
Tara LaChapelle, 20, a senior at Suffolk University who lives in the building, said authorities evacuated residents and cordoned off the building with caution tape.
"There's been disturbances before, like noise and hammering on my ceiling, her floor, that knocked down picture frames and other random noises like crying," LaChapelle said.
Several nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution, with others cordoned off. Residents were not allowed to leave the scene's perimeter.
That angered neighbors who said they just wanted to go to sleep.
"I came home to find all this," said Sara Lehrhoff of 27 Temple St., motioning toward the police, firefighters, and media surrounding her home. "I was told that people in [my] building were smelling something, but we never did." She said she was told by police that someone "was cooking something up."
Police lifted the evacuation order this morning.
John Guilfoil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Milton Valencia of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Gabrielle Dunn contributed to this report
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