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FBI Investigates Suspicious Letters Received by Washington, D.C. Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The FBI is investigating who is responsible for mailing at least 29 letters on Thursday, May 5, 2011, and additional letters on Friday, to Washington, D.C. schools. The incidents caused some school evacuations and tied up hundreds of hours of police and law enforcement resources.

Shortly after noon on Thursday, the FBI's National Capital Response Squad began responding with the Washington, D.C. Fire Department, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to repeated calls from Washington, D.C. schools with concerns of suspicious letters containing a white powdery substance.

In the ensuing 10 hours, local and federal hazardous material experts responded to each school location, assessing the level of risk, ensuring the threatening letters and substances were packaged safely for further analysis, and determining no further risk existed at the schools. To date, no hazardous substances were found in the mailings. No illnesses or injuries have been reported as a result.

Pursuant to protocol, each item packaged will be analyzed for hazardous substances by an approved regional lab before it is transported to the FBI's Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia. Experts there will perform a variety of tests in an effort to determine who sent the letters and whether the letters are linked to any other pending investigation.

Initial indications are that the letters were mailed from the Dallas area and are similar in style and content to other suspicious letters under investigation by Dallas FBI and U.S. Postal Inspectors. In addition, they are similar to other letters received at some Washington, D.C. area schools in October of 2010.

The addresses on the letters were printed, not handwritten. Each letter was addressed to a school and not a specific person. Further details on the content of the letters are not being released at this time because the investigation is pending.


Published May 7, 2011

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