The state Capitol complex was declared “secure” Wednesday evening, seven hours after two people reported seeing a gunman inside the Legislative Office Building garage.

“Everyone is confident the scene is secure,” state police spokesman Sgt. Paul Vance said. “Everything is in the process of being opened and will be back to normal in a short time.”

No weapon or gunman was found, Vance said. Two women, making separate reports, told police Wednesday afternoon they had seen a man with a weapon on the garage’s top level. Hartford police spokesman Lt. Neil Dryfe said the reports were considered credible.

The sightings came a few hours after the General Assembly opened its 2002 session with a speech by Gov. John G. Rowland. Hundreds more people than usual were in the Capitol for the speech and the start of the session.

Vance said “certain things” had been found in the parking garage, but said some of them may have been items that had fallen out of people’s cars. He gave no other details.

A criminal investigation is continuing, and additional information may be available Thursday, Vance said.

A state police helicopter and airplane had flown over the building for hours during the search, and police brought in an armored vehicle. The state Supreme Court building across from the Capitol also was closed, as were surrounding streets and the Capitol Avenue exit from Interstate 84.

Police herded people from the Legislative Office Building into the adjacent Capitol through an underground walkway as state and Hartford police SWAT teams searched the building and garage.

Some people were permitted to leave about 5 p.m. to catch buses or meet rides home, but most were unable to leave until the parking garage was reopened.

–Associated Press