Suspicious letter forces evacuation at state police headquarters in Tallahassee

4:39 PM, Apr 29, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - A letter claiming to contain anthrax forces the evacuation of more than 1,000 people at the headquarters of state police in Tallahassee.

There were tense moments at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles building as hazardous materials units rushed to the scene.

Firefighters wearing hazmat suits entered the facility and discovered six employees handled a letter claiming to contain the deadly bacteria anthrax.

More than 1,000 employees were quickly evacuated. Firefighters turned off the air conditioning system to try to prevent any spread of the possible threat.

Lt. Mike Bellamy of the Tallahassee Fire Department said firefighters rescued the six employees, isolated their clothes and monitored their health.

"We've decontaminated all of those six employees that made contact with this letter. None of the six individuals are complaining of any type of ailment."

The letter was found in the building's records division. An employee opened it up and found a note claiming the envelope contained anthrax but there was no substance inside - no powder like anthrax.

"There really is not a heightened level of concern right now due to the fact that we believe there is no actual substance inside the letter. It was maybe more of a threat than anything but we always do assume the worst and take all necessary precautions when we're dealing with public safety," said Bellamy.

The letter will be sent to a Department of Health lab in Jacksonville for further testing.

The building reopened to all employees Monday afternoon.

The incident has triggered a criminal investigation involving the FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol and Tallahassee Police Department.

Dave Heller

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