White powder in letters opened in local schools, four states

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on March 5, 2012 at 11:39 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 1:05 PM

DALLAS — At least eight letters containing a suspicious white powder were opened in four different states on Monday from local schools in North Texas to an Alabama bank — even a New York City art gallery.

The scares inside schools started unfolding just before lunch as workers, sorting mail in the offices, opened envelopes filled with white powder.

"They immediately came on scene and conducted an examination of the powder and they determined it to be corn starch," said Wylie ISD spokesman Ian Halperin.

Firefighters responded to Wylie High School, then Whitt Elementary in Sachse.

Hours earlier, Dallas Fire-Rescue were called to Sunset High School for the same reason.

Gulledge Elementary in Plano also reported a letter with white powder, according to a note sent home by principal Deni Bleggi.

The FBI did not reveal the recipients of the letters at any of the schools, nor did they say where the mail had been postmarked. But federal agents did confirm they are investigating along with U.S. Postal Inspectors.

News 8 discovered similar letters were being opened across the country on Monday.

One also arrived at Texas Instruments at Highway 75 and LBJ Freeway. It contained threatening language and a suspicious white powder, said TI spokesman Whitney Jodry.

J.F.K. Middle School in Enfield, Connecticut, north of Hartford, also received a letter with a suspicious white powder, according to reporter Tim Jensen of the Enfield Patch. "The FBI took it to a lab to be tested," Jensen said.

Neue Galerie, a museum of German and Austrian art in New York City's Upper East Side, reportedly got a letter, too, according to local media. No one answered the phone at the gallery on Monday evening.

Firefighters in Birmingham, Alabama, outfitted themselves up in hazmat suits and locked down the BBVA Compass Financial Center in downtown just before the end of the business day after a secretary opened an envelope with a similar substance.

"The hazmat crews just came out of the building with the substance. We did run tests on it. It turned out to be corn starch," said Birmingham Fire Department spokeman C.W. Mardis.

For two years, federal agents have hunted the person who sent similar letters from a Dallas post office to schools and lawmakers.

It's uncertain whether Monday's letters are linked to previous mailings, nor is the sender's motive known in any of the incidents.

No one was hurt at any of the locations in four states on Monday.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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