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Man arrested after worker sickened cleaning powdery substance at Midtown hotel

Man in custody after suspicious powder found in Manhattan hotel room
Man in custody after suspicious powder found in Manhattan hotel room 02:22

NEW YORK -- A man is in police custody after a suspicious powder was found inside a Manhattan hotel room.

Police said he has a history of hotel trespassing.

CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis has more on what this substance could be and hotel security.

It was back to business as usual at the upscale Park Hyatt in Midtown on Wednesday. But it was a much different scene Tuesday, after police responded to the 57th Street hotel to investigate a suspicious power inside one of its rooms.

The white powdery residue was tested and initially found to have trace amounts of explosives. The floor was evacuated. Police said further tests were met with negative results.

"There was no trace amounts of hazardous materials detected. At this time, we feel that the earlier tests test results were a false-positive," NYPD Chief Brian Hennessy said.

NYPD briefing on suspicious powder at Midtown hotel 05:11

Still, a 38-year-old hotel worker reported feeling sick shortly after cleaning the room and the substance. She was taken to the hospital, but police sources said she showed no signs of poisoning. It's believed she may have had a psycho-sematic reaction, or a panic attack.

Police arrested 55-year-old John Taddei on Tuesday night in a subway station. He allegedly told investigators he took a shower in the room and used baby powder. CBS2 was told he has 14 prior arrests, several involving trespassing at hotels.

"It begs the question as to why was this person still on the street,"  former NYPD lieutenant and current pace University professor Darrin Porcher said.

Porcher also questioned how the suspect got into the room, in the first place. Police sources said the family who previously occupied the room lost a key with the hotel room number on its sleeve. They checked out Sunday. It's believed the suspect found the key. Police have video of him arriving Monday night and leaving Tuesday morning.

"We should have greater fortifications and ramifications within that hotel security system to deactivate that key. Why was the key not deactivated on Sunday, when the guests departed the hotel?" Porcher said.

Police said they're looking into that.

Meanwhile, the Park Hyatt issued the following statement:

"The safety and well-being of our guests and colleagues remains a top priority. We are working closely with local authorities on their ongoing investigation. At this time, we do not believe the isolated situation poses any safety or security threat to guests or colleagues. We can confirm that police did not require an evacuation of the hotel, as a result of this situation, and no guests or guestroom floors were evacuated. Further questions should be directed to the local authorities," general manager Laurent Ebzant said.

DeAngelis did ask the Park Hyatt about its hotel security. It has not returned her request for information.

Police said there is no threat to the public.

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