White powder found at Buffalo, N.Y. courthouse

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A white powder fell out of an envelope on the courthouse's third floor.
Image: Jason Safoutin.

Buffalo, New York — A "white powder" has been discovered at the Michael J. Dillon courthouse at 68 Court Street in downtown Buffalo, New York.

According to Buffalo Fire Chief Don McFeely, "a call was placed to 911 at approximately 1:58 p.m. EST by a woman working on the third floor" of the courthouse after she opened a "letter which contained a suspicious white powder."

The building was immediately evacuated, which had at least 200 people in it, but it is unknown where the occupants of the building went, as only fire, police, and government officials were observed around the outside of the building. No decontamination site was seen, but according to witnesses, Hazmat officials were seen entering the building with bio-hazard suits.

McFeely also stated that the letter "contained codes," but would not elaborate on what the codes were or what they meant and that a "message was written on the letter which suggested that the powder was harmful."

Preliminary tests performed on the scene determined that the powder was not anthrax but the test did not "rule out anything else that maybe harmful," stated McFeely. "The letter has been removed from the building and has been taken to the FBI field office in Buffalo for further tests."

The letter was not addressed to anyone specifically, being addressed to just the courthouse itself.

So far no injuries or illnesses have been reported and according to McFeely, no one has been taken to the hospital, although stretchers were seen entering the building. The fire department was not on high alert but blocked off the area surrounding the courthouse as a "precautionary measure," said McFeely. The area was opened to traffic again at about 5:00 p.m. and the courthouse was open for business today.

The FBI has not released a statement and it is still unknown what the powder is.

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