BREAKING: Threatening letter claiming to contain anthrax sent to religious publication in Brazil
Authorities hope to track down who sent a threatening letter to the offices of a Brazil-based religious publication on Friday that contained a substance the letter's author claimed to be anthrax.
Initial on-scene testing of the substance found that it was not the deadly bacterial disease; however, final testing still must be done, officials say.
"We do hope the substance is fake, and every indication says that from the professionals who did the initial testing on it," Brazil Police Chief Clint McQueen said.
Local, county and state police, along with fire, emergency management and hazmat teams converged on Herald of His Coming on East Mechanic Street in Brazil after receiving a call from the ministry's office around 3:30 p.m.
McQueen said a person there reported opening the mail and receiving the threatening letter that read, "If you're reading this, you're dead." It also referenced the substance inside was anthrax.
"Obviously, we feel they are targeted since it came directly to them," McQueen said. "We will continue to investigate and try and track it down to where it came from. Hopefully we can find the person who did this and they can answer for what they've done."
McQueen said three individuals were in close proximity to the letter; two of them touched it. He was unsure if any of them had sought medical evaluation.
He did say authorities were on scene quickly and secured the area. He said his department was joined by multiple local and state agencies, including state hazardous material investigators. Investigators with the FBI and United States Postal Service were also summoned.
"The hazmat team had some capabilities and resources to do on-scene testing (of the alleged anthrax), which resulted negative at the scene," said McQueen, adding the letter and substance were sent to a lab in Indianapolis for further testing. "We will probably know that result tomorrow and notify the persons who were around that substance."
Some responders were still on scene four hours after the initial call.
"We appreciate all of the assistance," McQueen said.