MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CBS) — Six people were checked out Thursday morning after they were exposed to an unknown, powdery substance by a suspect who was in police custody at Elliot Hospital.
Manchester Police said Theodore Macenas, 26 of Manchester, was arrested around 3:45 a.m. on a domestic charge after his girlfriend said he struck her in the parking lot of a South Willow Street McDonald’s.
Officers said Macenas appeared to be under the influence of drugs when arrested, and found 12 Diazepam pills in his pockets. Macenas asked for medical help, so he was taken to Elliot Hospital around 9:30 a.m.
“At one point in time he asked the officer to use the restroom, upon doing so the officer realized he was actually trying to get rid of some drugs he had concealed inside his body, a struggle ensued, the bag ripped, and a white, unknown, powdery substance spilled all over the floor,” explained Police Lt. Brian O’Keefe.
The bathroom was immediately taped off, and a Manchester Fire Department crew set to work decontaminating the area. The hospital said the ER stayed open the entire time.
“An overabundance of caution was used while treating the emergency workers exposed,” Manchester Police said in a statement.
Six people, including two Manchester Police officers, an Elliott Hospital security guard, one doctor, one nurse, and one nursing student, were exposed to that powder–but none of them actually required treatment.
Elliot Hospital said those six complained of headaches, nausea, fogginess, and rapid heartbeat, and said all of them had slightly heightened blood pressure–but all were eventually released.
The substance is still being tested at the New Hampshire State Laboratory.
“We went by the symptoms of the people that were exposed to it. So we’re pretty certain it is not a carfentanil incident because they would have needed narcan, they would have been a lot more than just nauseous,” said District Chief Jim Michael of the Manchester Fire Department.
In addition to his original domestic assault charge, Macenas was charged with possession of a controlled drug, falsifying physical evidence, and three counts of possession of a controlled drug.
It wasn’t yet clear when Macenas would be arraigned.