FBI Raids Home Of Texas Man Considered Person Of Interest In Ricin Investigation
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Early Friday morning, federal agents swarmed the home of a Texas man who is now being called a person of interest in the ricin letters investigation.
FBI agents hauled electronics out of the house in New Boston, Texas, CBS Shreveport, La. affiliate KSLA-TV reported.
The person was questioned by the FBI in Texarkana, Texas, but was not immediately considered a suspect, sources told CBS News. Later Friday, CBS 2 learned the man’s wife reportedly told police her husband may have sent the letters. However, the husband reportedly accused his wife — saying he was set-up, and knew nothing about it.
The house is located about an hour and a half drive from Shreveport, where ricin-laced letters mailed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his gun control group in Washington and a third letter to President Barack Obama were postmarked.
Neighbors were stunned.
“We are probably the smallest, quietest, friendliest town in the state of Texas. Yesterday, we were not on the map; today we will be on the map,” Sherry Hensel told CBS 2’s Jack Fink. “You never know. This can happen in any little town anywhere in America, or anywhere for that matter.”
The post office there is also a processing center which handles mail from Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.
Police said the type-written letters were similar with no return address.
“There are three letters. The letters are the same. They are addressed on the envelope, not on the letter itself. On the letter it says ‘you’ and then it starts off with the narrative,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The two letters addressed to Bloomberg each contained oily orange stains, which tested positive for ricin. Authorities said it was crudely made and of poor quality, but still dangerous and potentially deadly. It wasn’t clear if the missive to Obama contained the same substance.
According to multiple sources, the letters also contained a threat that said:
“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bare arms is my constitutional, God-given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die. What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”
The anonymous letters to Bloomberg were opened in New York on Friday at the city’s mail facility in Manhattan and in Washington on Sunday at an office used by Bloomberg’s non-profit Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The letter sent to the president was recovered at a White House mail screening facility. It was turned over to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation.
Speaking Friday on his weekly WOR Radio show, Bloomberg shrugged off any specter of danger.
“There’s always threats, unfortunately. That comes with the job,” the mayor said. “I trust the police department and I feel perfectly safe. I’ve got more danger from lightning than from anything else and I’ll go about my business.”
The letters were the latest in a string of toxin-laced missives, but authorities would not say whether the letters to Bloomberg and Obama were believed to be linked to any other recent case.
Another letter became known publicly Thursday, one tainted with the poison ricin and mailed to Obama from Spokane, Wash., the FBI said. Authorities have arrested a man in Spokane in connection with that letter, which was intercepted May 22.
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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