FBI, Hazmat crews investigated suspicious substance found in rental car near Hopkins Airport

CLEVELAND - The FBI, Hazmat crews, special agents and police responded to a car rental business near the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport Friday night for a report of a suspicious substance found in a recently returned vehicle.

An Enterprise Rent-A-Car employee contacted police around 8:28 p.m. to report the finding after a customer returned the black 4-door Chevrolet Impala.

Police said a white powdery substance was located in the trunk and backseat. Also, the interior trim and spare tire were missing and a hole had been burned through the trunk floor.

While crews were investigating, the Enterprise employee told police he had just seen the man who returned the car walking near-by.

Officers located the suspect, Christopher E. Frank, on a shuttle bus and took him into custody.

According to police, Frank said he and his girlfriend went to an abandoned building on E. 71th Street and removed five glass bottles; three of which contained liquid, one was labeled hydrogen chloride.

Frank said he placed the bottles in the trunk and went on his way until he smelled a strong odor that made it difficult for him to breathe.

He got out of the car to open the trunk and noticed two bottles had broken and spilled liquid in the trunk.

Frank said he went to the car wash, sprayed water into the trunk, which produced a bubbling and hissing reaction that emitted an irritating vapor.

Frank then told officers he had called a friend, who instructed him to apply baking soda to the liquid.

Frank said he and his girlfriend discarded the bottles, interior parts and spare tire into a dumpster, and applied baking soda to the backseat and trunk of the car, before returning it.

Officers said Frank was treated for discoloration to his hands and respiratory irritation before being transported to jail on a vandalism charge.

The car is a total loss.

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