Two charged with weapons of mass destruction hoax after Fort Pierce motel standoff

Men claimed they had Ricin, a highly toxic poison

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- A four-hour standoff Monday evening between law enforcement and a 64-year-old man and his 28-year-old accomplice ended when the men surrendered to authorities.

Michael Conley, 64, and and Michael Hughes, 28, surrendered to police around 8 p.m. after barricading themselves in a room at America's Best Value Inn at 6651 Darter Court.

From a SWAT team to a hazardous materials team, from Fort Pierce Police to the FBI, law enforcement descended on the motel after police tried to serve a warrant in a theft case.

When they knocked on a first-floor motel room door, police said Conley held a knife to his throat and threatened to hurt himself or anyone else who came in.

Investigators said he allegedly showed officers a white vial with a substance they claimed was ricin, a highly toxic poison.

Police backed off and evacuated the motel. Guests waited outside for hours.

"Just come out and let the rest of these people go on with their lives. We're the hostages here," said Steve Brock, the motel's night manager.

Officers trained their sights on the developing scene. Negotiators tried to talk the men out of the room. Then, they cut power to the motel.

Officers said that worked. Almost four hours after the standoff started, the men gave up. Conley walked out of the room and Hughes followed, each with their hands up in surrender.

"They are both in custody at this point. We're going to continue the investigations," said Sgt. Dennis McWilliams, a police department spokesman.

Firefighters in Hazmat gear decontaminated the men as a precaution. Investigators said no threat can be ignored.

"It's important for us to essentially roll out as many resources as we can, obviously with the goal being that we're here to save lives," McWilliams said.

McWilliams said police on Monday evening had not identified the substance.

Both men have been charged with committing a weapons of mass destruction hoax.

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