Police say a letter carrying a powdery substance that was delivered to Senator Patrick Leahy’s Burlington office on Thursday is harmless.
Police say they received a call from Leahy’s office at lunch time reporting the suspicious letter.
Andy Higbee, Burlington’s deputy police chief, says the letter appeared to be similar to letters received by other congressmen around the country.
(Higbee) "The building was locked down, and city and state services were tied up here. The suspicious package was tested and it appears to be benign at the moment. The final test has not been conducted."
A bomb squad was on the scene to make sure the package did not contain an explosive, and Vermont’s Hazardous Material Team performed a field test that showed the powdery substance in the letter was not anthrax.
The powder was sent Thursday evening to the Health Department for further testing.
All of the offices in the downtown building were evacuated while authorities investigated.
Three members of Leahy’s staff and the mail carrier who delivered the letter were cordoned off for more than four hours. Senator Leahy, who’s traveling in Cuba, was not in the office Thursday.
Leahy’s staff members never opened the letter. But they say it was immediately suspicious to them, so they called police.
The building was reopened Thursday evening, and the FBI is spearheading the investigation to identify a suspect.
The FBI says letters recently received by other members of Congress have not contained a hazardous substance, and that the agency will investigate fully.