NEWTOWN, Ohio — Two people police thought were on a terrorism watch list were taken into custody Friday afternoon in Newtown, but officials later cleared them of suspicion.
Hamilton County dispatchers confirmed officers detained the man and woman during a traffic stop near the intersection of Main Street and Little Dry Run Road shortly before 2 p.m. Friday.
Newtown officers conducted a traffic stop at Main Street and Little Dry Run. Two suspects in custody may be listed on terror watch list.
— Newtown Police (@newtownpd) December 18, 2015
Chief Tom Synan says an "identifier" hit on a watch list, could be name, license plate, SSN, VIN #, etc. @WCPO
— Jason Law (@JasonLawNews) December 18, 2015
"It took a while [to verify the information with authorities]," said Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan. "You're dealing with a bunch of people who are trying to get information and run things through and double check and triple check, and they make sure everything is safe and everything is good."
"I'd rather someone think it's something and find out it's not," he said, adding that hits on the federal terrorism watch list happen frequently. "We get cautions all the time on stuff, a lot of times that we want to check out. Initially, that's what they thought it was, and it ends up that's not what it is."
The man and woman were in police custody Friday afternoon. Synan said the woman, who is from Ohio, would be released. The man, from California, was found to be in possession of an unlicensed, concealed firearm and could face felony gun charges.
Synan said officers initiated the stop because they observed what they believed to be an instance of distracted driving. "Texting on the phone, wasn't paying attention to traffic... we stopped them to tell them to get off the phone and came upon what we mistakenly thought was a (hit on the terror) list, but it wasn't," he said.
WCPO's Evan Millward and Tony Mirones contributed to this report.