Since April 26, there have been several “white powder scares” in Portland as well as in other cities around the country.
The Portland case appears to have been cracked. The letters containing the white powder were sent from the Multnomah County Jail. This seems to explain the statement earlier from police, “the letters have been stopped”.
At least two of the envelopes containing white powder also had the word “anthrax” written on them. Understandably, one might wonder how such letters could be sent out of a jail. However, while mail going into the jail is checked, mail going out is not unless investigators are specifically keeping an eye on someone’s actions.
Federal investigators are reportedly looking at a federal inmate who was being held at the jail. That inmate has now been transferred to a federal facility in Sheridan, Oregon.
The letters had been sent to the federal courthouse, the Lloyd Center mall, a business office at the airport, a business office at the downtown Hilton, the Marquam Building that houses OHSU offices and the Market Center Building that houses some offices for Portland State University.
There was no anthrax in any of the letters and no one was physically hurt in any of the incidents. Grant Coffey, Portland Fire & Rescue’s HAZMAT coordinator estimates however that the costs in resonse so far may reach as much as $14,000. Several buildings were required to be evacuated, hazmat teams scrambled people quarantined briefly in response.
In other “white powder scares” elsewhere, the FBI has linked the mailings of hundreds of envelopes containing white powder over the last four years to the work of someone in Texas.
The FBI released a statement that several of these letters contained a Texas postmark and contained references to subjects such as Nazis and Al Qaida. A $150,000 reward is being offered in this case.
The letters sent last week in Connecticut that Citizen Journalist reported on previously allegedly had an Al Qaida reference.
Over the past two weeks, there have been six locations in the Portland, Oregon area as well as locations in Connecticut and NYC that have received envelopes containing suspicious white powder.
In Portland , two different locations received letters on Thursday. The first letter was sent to Portland State University at the Market Center building near Southwest 4th Avenue and Market Street. The second scare took place at the Oregon Health & Science University in the Marquam Plaza Building at 2525 Southwest 3rd. On Wednesday, two white powder incidents were reported. One occurred at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Portland, the second occurred at a Port of Portland building near the Portland International Airport. On Tuesday there was a scare at the Lloyd Center mall on Tuesday and there was an intial incident at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse on April 26.
In all of the Portland cases, the envelopes were addressed to human resources offices and “anthrax” written either directly on the envelope or in a two-page letter in the envelope. Evacuations and hazmat teams were called out to address the scares, and several people who had contact with the letters were quarantined. No anthrax was found in any of the cases.
Referencing the Portland cases, FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele issued a press release today stating “the FBI and its local partners believe they have stopped the sender or senders’ ability to continue this stream of threats.” They have not as yet clarified what that means, or whether there may have been an arrest.
“White powder” scares have also been currently occurring at locations in Connecticut.
The Rowland State Government Center in Waterbury and the Ruth Chaffee School in Newington were evacuated on Thursday. Keeny Street Elementary in Manchester was also locked down. All are closed today, pending an investigation. The powder in the Manchester school was accompanied by a letter mentioning Al Qaida.
A spate of “white powder” letters were sent to several banks in NYC on April 30, saying “Happy May Day”, seemingly referencing May Day protests.
No one was injured in any of the incidents and no anthrax was found. There is no indication at present whether these incidents are related.