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Subway checked for hazardous material; none found

Fire department hazardous-material teams in protective suits were called to the scene.
Fire department hazardous-material teams in protective suits were called to the scene.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Yellow-suited hazardous-materials technicians were called to a subway station in suburban Washington after an armed man on a subway sprayed a mysterious liquid during a confrontation with police Tuesday morning, officials said.

Investigators in Prince George's County, Maryland, later said the substance appeared to be an ordinary cleaning solution.

The incident began at about 11:15 a.m. EDT, after the 23-year-old man entered a Metro station in Prince George's County, located just east of the District of Columbia. A Metro supervisor called police, saying the man, whom officials did not identify, had not paid his fare and was behaving "in an unusual manner."

A police officer responded and confronted the man, who had boarded a D.C.-bound train by that time. When the officer confronted him, the man sprayed the air with fluid from a plastic pump bottle that he had inside his jacket. He also fired a round from a handgun and was carrying a knife with a 12-inch blade, officials said.

Police took the man into custody spraying pepper spray on him. Officers said he was carrying a religious book, but had not determined what it was Tuesday afternoon.

The gunshot did not hit anyone, but passengers and others at the scene complained of respiratory problems after police removed the man from the train. In all, 35 people said they suffered from nausea, dry throat or headaches.

Hazardous-materials technicians called to the station determined that the man had sprayed cleaning solution in the air. The symptoms passengers and others on the train suffered were consistent with those caused by pepper spray, officials said.

The 35 people exposed to the substance would be isolated until later in the day to "err on the side of safety," said Capt. Chauncey Bowers, a spokesman for the Prince George's Fire Department.

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