Still no word on what suspicious substance is - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Still no word on what suspicious substance is

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July 16, 2007

Albany--  Some workers who came in contact with a suspicious envelope at Albany's Federal Courthouse remained locked inside that building late into the evening. Before noon, an employee found a clear crystal substance in a letter delivered by the Postal Service. Investigators are still trying to figure what that substance is. The scare led to a day-long lockdown.

The C.B. King Federal Courthouse was more like a federal prison Monday. Employees were stuck behind windows after a suspicious substance caused a lockdown.

"We just want to make sure everybody is safe," said Deputy Chief David Eddins.

The scare began with a letter. An employee opened it and felt something just wasn't right. "Proper steps were taken. This item was isolated," said Eddins. Emergency personnel with HAZ-MAT, police and fire departments rushed to the scene. They tested the substance, then turned it over to federal officials for more extensive testing.

"Right now this is an FBI, a criminal investigation," said Eddins.

By late afternoon, some courthouse employees were allowed to leave. But by evening, employees who came in close contact with the material remained. It would take hours to determine exactly what the clear substance was.

"They've taken it over to Waycross to a facility there," said Eddins. Questions arose as to who sent it and why. Early investigations revealed it came from a prison. "The different agencies are actually doing their part to find out information about that," said Eddins.

Albany Fire Department Deputy Chief David Eddins says any potential threat in the city is taken seriously. "This just brings it home to make sure that we don't drop our guards," said Eddins. And this one gave them some practice.

"In a lot of instances you look like there's lessons to be learned. Looks like here lessons were learned and were applied," said Eddins.

So far the practice and applied lessons have paid off. "No one has gotten sick over this and no one has shown or complained about anything," said Eddins.

It's a threat now thwarted and a courthouse will now be back to normal business.

At least 30 employees were inside the courthouse Monday. They should all be able to return to work as scheduled Tuesday. Court was scheduled for Monday but of course had to be cancelled because of the scare.    

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