WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) – The Secret Service says it has intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama that is similar to two ricin-laced letters that were sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his gun control group in Washington.
The letter has been turned over to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation, the agency said.
The letter was recovered at a White House mail screening facility. It was flagged and not immediately opened. The facility is located away from the White House.
Obama was aware of the letter addressed to him, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Sources confirmed to CBS News the letter had the same external markings as the ones sent to Bloomberg and to an office used by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the nonprofit started by Bloomberg.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday that all three letters contained threats about shooting people in the face.
He said he won’t quote directly from the letters because he doesn’t want to do the author’s bidding, but summarized them as saying in so many words, “anyone who comes for my guns will be shot in the face.”
The letter sent to Obama was postmarked from Shreveport, La., CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reported. Shreveport was also the postmark for the two letters mailed to Bloomberg, the American Postal Workers Union said Thursday.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Wednesday that both letters addressed to Bloomberg contained threats referencing the gun control debate and an oily pinkish-orange substance.
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.”
Last month, a Mississippi man was arrested for trying to send ricin-laced letters to Obama, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and a judge.
The letters addressed to the president and Wicker were sent April 8. Both letters tested positive for ricin but were intercepted before they reached their targets.
James Everett Dutschke was arrested at his home in Tupelo, Miss., April 27 in that investigation. In court papers, the FBI said ricin was discovered in a martial-arts studio run by Dutschke.
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“It’s one of the most toxic and deadly substances that you can actually have,” said infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci. “So the idea of exposing someone to it, where it could actually get into the system, can be really very destructive.”
Symptoms include difficulty breathing, vomiting and redness on the skin depending on how the affected person comes into contact with the poison.
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