NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Threatening letters addressed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg in both New York and Washington, D.C. have been found preliminarily to contain ricin, police said Wednesday.
The anonymous threats to Bloomberg were opened in New York City on Friday, and by the director of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns – of which Bloomberg is co-chairman – on Sunday.
The writer of the letters made reference to debate on gun laws. Mayor Bloomberg is a strong supporter of gun control.
“No, I’m not angry,” Bloomberg told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez Wednesday night at an event in the city. “There are people who I would argue do things that may be irrational, do things that are wrong. But it’s a very complex world out there and we just have to deal with that.”
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the NYPD Intelligence Division have launched an investigation. CBS News reported both letters had a Shreveport, Louisiana, return address, reported CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
Law enforcement sources paraphrased the letters’ message as saying, “This is a taste of what’s to come if you come to take my gun.”
“In terms of why they’ve done it, I don’t know. The letter was obviously referred to our anti-gun efforts but there’s 12,000 people who are going to get killed this year with guns and 19,000 are going to commit suicide with guns and we’re not gonna walk away from those efforts,” Bloomberg said.
The feds and NYPD said they plan to keep the details of the investigation close to the vest.
“The FBI has an investigation ongoing and so things like the exact wording and the postmarks, etc., we’re not going to disclose,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told WCBS 880 and 1010 WINS. “It was a pink-orange oily substance that subsequently, in the preliminary tests, indicate the presence of ricin.”
Civilian personnel in New York and in Washington who came into contact with the opened letters have not suffered symptoms, but three NYPD Emergency Service Unit officers who came into contact with the letter at the city mail facility on Gold Street in Manhattan have been treated for minor symptoms of ricin exposure that have since abated, police said.
“They’re in the hospital now being checked out as a precaution but it’s not life-threatening, what they experienced,” Browne said.
Law enforcement is currently searching to see if the sender sent any additional letters, CBS News reported.
Last month, ricin-tainted letters addressed to President Barack Obama, as well as U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and an 80-year-old Mississippi judge, were intercepted. Former Mississippi State House candidate and child sexual abuse investigation subject J. Everett Dutschke, 41, has been arrested in connection with that case.
Derived from the castor oil plant, ricin is a highly toxic protein that can kill a full-grown adult in a dose the size of just a few grains of salt.
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