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Published April 29, 2013

Substance in envelope leads to court evacuation in Warren

WARREN — White powder found in an envelope caused the evacuation of the 37th District Court early April 29.

Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said Chief Judge John Chmura made the decision to close the courthouse for the day after an employee discovered an unknown white powder in an envelope originally sent from a Chrysler address to a third party.

A Warren Fire Department hazardous materials crew was on the scene shortly after 11 a.m. Green said agents with the FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service were also outside the courthouse and coordinating their response with the Warren Police Department’s emergency manager.

“They opened up an envelope. It had some white powder in it,” Green said. “It was a letter from Chrysler to a third party. It was mailed to the court sometime last week. I don’t know how it got to the court.”

Court staff reportedly tried to forward the envelope to its intended recipient last week, but the letter came back to the court as undeliverable April 26.

The decision to close the court was made after the letter was opened this morning by an employee.

Green said four employees were believed to have been exposed to the substance and would be medically evaluated per necessary protocol.

No one was immediately believed to be injured but Green said investigators were required to err on the side of caution.

“We called the FBI. Their protocol will dictate, between them and us, who will actually take control of whatever the substance is and handle it from there,” Green said. “The world we live in today, we have to be extremely vigilant.”

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