White powder in letter to McCain not anthrax | AspenTimes.com

White powder in letter to McCain not anthrax

Eileen Sullivan
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

WASHINGTON ” The suspicious white powder found in a letter sent to a Colorado campaign office for John McCain is not anthrax or another lethal substance, officials determined Friday.

The Colorado National Guard Civil Support Team completed its testing of the powder around 2 a.m. EDT Friday, Guard spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said. Officials do not know what the powder is, but they determined it was not lethal.

Thursday’s scare had sent at least 19 people to hospitals for testing.

Officials said the threatening letter was sent by an inmate at the Arapahoe Detention Center. Arapahoe County Sheriff’s officials identified the inmate suspected of sending the letter as 39-year-old Marc Harold Ramsey, who has been incarcerated since September 2007 on investigation of felony menacing, harassment and second-degree assault on a peace officer. Ramsey may face federal felony charges for Thursday’s incident, sheriff’s officials said.

Colorado U.S. Attorney Troy Eid scheduled a press conference Friday to announce federal charges in the case, but there was no immediate word on whether Ramsey was the one named.

There are 55 National Guard teams across the country that respond to these sorts of incidents. Three of these teams will be in Denver the week of the convention to respond and walk the floor of the Pepsi Center to defuse situations and reduce false alarms such as Thursday’s.

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These special National Guard teams respond to similar incidents about once a week, Breitenfeldt said. But Thursday’s letter received media attention because it involved a presidential candidate.

The Secret Service ” which provides protection to the candidates ” said a separate letter scare in a New Hampshire campaign office was a false alarm. When the New Hampshire office received a letter with a Denver postmark, officials became concerned after hearing about the letter with white powder in Colorado.

Both the Colorado and New Hampshire offices were evacuated.

The Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday in Denver.

Anthrax has been in the news recently because the FBI announced it had a suspect in the 2001 deadly anthrax attacks. The suspect, Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins, killed himself July 29.

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