By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
A Ballard Drive apartment building was evacuated Monday morning after Richmond police discovered a suspected one-step meth lab inside one of the units.
Two officers in hazmat suits spent hours carefully searching the apartment, which had a hand-written sign on the door telling people “Please Ring Door Bell.” A Confederate flag, outlined by a half-burned out string of Christmas lights, hung in the front window.
Earlier, police had arrested the apartment’s resident, Lucas Shanks, 26, and charged him with manufacturing methamphetamine and controlled-substance endangerment of a child. An elementary-age child was in the apartment when police arrived, according to officials at the scene.
Four adults were in the apartment and had to be decontaminated, according to RPD Maj. Bob Mott.
An anonymous complaint tipped officers off to the suspected drug activity, and a search warrant was obtained following an investigation, Mott said.
Emergency medical personnel and firefighters stayed at the scene for nearly six hours while the two officers meticulously took samples from plastic bottles filled with chemicals and catalogued all the items in the apartment that were used to make the illegal drug.
An emergency worker said once the police were done removing evidence, the landlord must hire a cleaning crew to decontaminate the apartment before it can be rented again. The building has nine units.
Dozens of people congregated outside on front stoops and porches, watching the process. Several dogs and one cat scurried about the parking lot, and at one point, the cat tried to enter the contaminated apartment, but an officer shooed him away.
Around 2 p.m., more RPD officers arrived and were instructed to perform “crowd control.” The neighbors slowly drifted back into their apartments as officers checked IDs. One man was searched and placed in a police cruiser, but it was unclear whether he was arrested.
The emergency workers, who were there in case of an explosion or exposure to fumes, cleared the scene at 4 p.m.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.