The day after a New York man was arrested for threatening New York lawmakers and members of congressional leadership, two Republican members from Virginia received suspicious mailings at their district offices.
The Virginia Beach office of Rep. Scott Rigell received a letter Friday afternoon containing “an unidentified substance,” said Chris Connelly, Rigell’s chief of staff, in a statement. “Since the staff member who opened the letter immediately put it aside once the substance was noticed, the subject and intent of the letter is not known.”
According to Connelly’s statement, the Capitol Police have been alerted about the incident, and the Virginia Beach fire and police departments responded and took custody of the letter. The office was evacuated, Connelly said, and now authorities will analyze the suspicious mailing to determine whether its contents are hazardous.
Meanwhile, Rep. J. Randy Forbes’ Chesapeake office on Friday received a package containing “a flaky, unidentified substance,” according to spokesman Sergio Gor. Like Connelly, Gor said that Capitol Police and local law enforcement were notified and arrived on the scene quickly.
Gor added that Forbes was not in the office when the package was received.
A year ago, a handful of House members and nearly all senators received mailings at their home state and Capitol Hill offices containing suspicious powders. All tested negative for hazardous materials, but the incident raised red flags after the anthrax and ricin scares following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
On March 9, 2012, the coordinated efforts of the Capitol Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service resulted in the arrest of Christopher Lee Carlson. The 39-year-old was arrested at his home in Vancouver, Wash., on charges of mailing a threatening communication to a member of Congress and mailing a letter threatening to use a biological weapon to a U.S. senator.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.