Frightened workers and nearby diners peered through doors and round corners in central Masterton after police evacuated the building housing WINZ and Child Youth and Family in the wake of a bomb threat this afternoon.
Police vehicles blocked off a stretch of Lincoln Rd from Chapel St to Coradine St and officers stood with up to 30 staff on the footpath outside the building after the threat was made in the Child Youth and Family offices just before 4pm.
A 32-year-old man was arrested a short distance from the building with no weapons on him and no bomb. He was taken into custody. A police spokesman said it was believed the man had not made threats against any particular staff members. Charges were yet to be laid.
A Wellington police spokesman said the bomb squad was dispatched from Wellington after the man made the threat. No one was injured and police were still searching for a bomb hours later.
Speaking shortly after the call-out, Masterton Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton was satisfied the situation was under control and there was no risk to the public.
He said the man was not from Masterton, but was staying in Masterton.
He praised the Child Youth and Family workers for the way they responded to the incident.
At the scene, about 10 teenagers stood outside the Lincoln Road door to the McDonalds Restaurant, but they were swiftly ushered inside.
A woman from the Medlab Masterton offices in Lincoln Rd called across the road to police, seeking reassurances of safety as she leaned out the door of her offices, about 150 metres from the knot of evacuated Winz workers.
Another woman in the Masterton District Council carpark was uncertain about breaching the cordon and fearful for her safety.
"Can I go across? I need to get to (the other side)."
The police cordon was expected to remain in place for several hours.
Security guards have been posted outside the Masterton offices, and nationwide at WINZ premises, since soon after Russell John Tully, 49, shot dead WINZ Ashburton workers Peggy Noble, 67, and case manager Susan Leigh Cleveland, 55 at their desks.
Tully was found guilty of the killings earlier this month and was found not guilty of attempting to murder case manager Lindy Curtis.
He was also found guilty on two charges of unlawful possession of a firearm. The jury found him not guilty of a related charge of setting a man trap.
Tully was remanded in custody for sentence on April 15.