White powder with chilling message sent to churches, mosque and businesses

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by GARY REAVES

WFAA

Posted on August 6, 2010 at 5:44 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 6 at 6:39 PM

DALLAS - An investigation is taking place across North Texas, after more than a dozen envelopes full of white powder were discovered in businesses, churches and a mosque.

Six more envelopes with harmless white powder were reported to postal authorities today, bringing the total to 13 in North Texas over the last two days.

The first seven were found yesterday in Las Colinas, Grand Prairie, Richardson, and at Love Field.

On Friday, another six arrived at more businesses in Richardson and Grand Prairie and also Garland, Arlington, Carrollton and within the last two hours in Dallas.

Dallas Fire-Rescue and police officers were at the Texas Instruments building, where several workers had to be evacuated, while crews investigated the white powder that was found.

So far, none of the powder found has tested as dangerous. Sources say it is corn starch.

Federal investigators, the Postal Inspector in Fort Worth will not confirm that, nor will they confirm there is any connection between all of these cases.

They have all started with a simple business envelop.

"When I opened it, this powder just blew up. I just went blank. I was kind of scared," said Susie Williams of International Aviation Support.

Her boss found a chilling note inside.

"We took the actual letter out of the envelope and more powder fell. We opened the letter and it said something to the effect of 'Al-Qaeda in the USA,'" said Keith Engelbrecht.

A similar envelope showed up at Rocket Air, where the Arlington Hazmat team responded putting bags over the hands of the worker exposed.

There was no word on whether a note was found.

"We took it as a credible threat," said one emergency responder.

Two more threats were shipped to Ratheon plants in Dallas and Garland, just one day after four were sent to Richardson. One of those went to the mosque and three others went to churches there - one Baptist, one Catholic and one Methodist.

"They are all exactly the same. Every letter looked the same. The threatening remarks were the same and the materials came out the same," said Ron Kutz, Richardson battalion chief.

The FBI and postal inspectors are responsible for the case. They took the materials to their lab for further testing.

"For now, it looks like a threat but even that is a serious crime," said U.S. postal inspector, Amanda McMurrey.

Since 9/11, the postal service has been checking all mail for bio hazards. We can be relatively sure that stuff is not getting through in the mail.

These 13 cases have wasted thousands and thousands of dollars of local resources.

If police catch the person responsible, they can make them pay for all that.

E-mail: greaves@wfaa.com

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