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Suspicious mail sent to Oregon sheriffs

Letter at Hood River County Sheriff’s Office said not hazardous

Mysterious letters hit sheriffs’ offices around the state Monday, but none proved toxic, according to the FBI.

About 20 suspicious letters were delivered to sheriffs around the state but hazardous materials crews found “no toxic substance” or “visible powder” in any of the envelopes, said Beth Anne Steele, Portland FBI Public Information Officer. The case is still under investigation.

The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office received a suspicious letter Monday, but a HAZMAT analysis yielded no evidence of hazardous materials. The letter, along with others collected around the state, is under investigation by the FBI, the lead agency covering the case.

Oregon State Police Lt. Patrick Shortt of The Dalles command said every Sheriff’s Office in the Gorge received at least one suspicious letter, including Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties. Shortt said none of the local mail proved dangerous.

“We haven’t detected any (hazardous) materials,” said Shortt.

An early Oregon Emergency System report Monday afternoon said Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer was taken to a hospital after he opened a letter containing a white substance, and subsequently developed a rash on his arms.

Shortt told the Hood River News that Palmer had a “reaction” around the time he opened a letter Monday, but police agencies have not yet confirmed the letter contained harmful materials.

Hood River County Sheriff Matt English said reports of suspicious letters started coming in “very quickly” around 1:30 Monday afternoon.

“It was mid-day today (Monday). After that, reports came in around the state,” said English. “We’re working with other agencies.”

At about 3:30 p.m., the Hood River County Sheriff’s business office closed its doors, and HAZMAT crews from Gresham removed the letter for analysis. Officials found no hazardous materials, but the evidence has since been turned over to the FBI for further investigation, said Shortt.

Following the HAZMAT search, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office remained closed until regular business hours ended at 5:30 p.m.

That afternoon, Wasco County Courthouse was evacuated for about an hour, The Dalles Chronicle reported. After police and chemical investigators searched the courthouse, employees returned to the building. Oregon State Police and FBI are conducting a statewide investigation into the “suspicious mail, some with an unknown substance.” OSP have warned people to be cautious of mail that has excessive postage, no return address, excessive tape to secure parcel, misspelled words, misspelled title with name, strange odors and oily stains, discolorations, or crystallization on packaging.

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