WASHINGTON – A suspicious envelope was found in one Senate office building and a suspicious package in another Wednesday as the Capitol complex heightened security the day after a letter addressed to a senator tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison.
Meanwhile, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) also said his regional office in Saginaw received a “suspicious-looking letter” that was turned over to authorities.
Police were questioning an individual on the scene in connection with the morning events. U.S. Capitol Police said no evacuations were underway Wednesday as they advised lawmakers to shelter in place. “We’re controlling access to the buildings right now,” said Capitol Police Officer Shannell Antrobus.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), however, said his office was “quarantined” and his staff was being evacuated.
The first incident unfolded at 11:09 a.m. EDT. when a suspicious envelope was found on the third floor of the Senate Russell Office Building, the police said. Within minutes, a suspicious package was found at 11:17 a.m. in the atrium of the Hart Office Building.
One staff member in the Hart building, who requested anonymity to discuss the situation, said a man with a backpack was running into offices dropping off envelopes, drawing alarm.
The Senate’s three office buildings house the senators’ offices, as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of staff, across the street from the U.S. Capitol.
A day earlier, a letter addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) tested positive for ricin at a Senate mail processing facility in Maryland, prompting a security briefing from the sergeant at arms of the Senate.
That letter was postmarked in Memphis, Tenn., and even though it had no return address, a senator said the sender was familiar to authorities as someone who often writes to lawmakers.
Staff writer Richard Simon contributed to this story.