JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two Capitol offices had to be shut down for hours Thursday afternoon due to the discovery of a suspicious substance in the mail.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, was the target. Thursday evening, she announced on Twitter the substance was a “cancer-causing pesticide.” Capitol police have told the public that the substance did not pose a threat.
"Every single senator is a target because of what they stand up for,” Chappelle-Nadal said. “However, because of the issues that are in my district, not only Ferguson do I represent, but I also represent an area that has over 100 locations with radioactive waste."
However, Thursday’s threat came with initial serious concern from police and a visit from the Jefferson City Fire Department's hazmat team. They immediately quarantined eight people who came anywhere near a letter sent to the senator's office.
The letter traveled from the senator’s mailbox in the Capitol basement to her third-floor office. A staffer opened it and noticed a green powdery substance. That staffer then took the envelope to the Senate administrator’s office.
"The good news is -- the mail came in, there was a substance that was found that was suspicious, people acted, we took precautions,” said Department Of Public Safety Spokesman Mike O’Connell. “Everybody is safe, and at no time did we have to cease the normal operations in this building today."
Sen. President Pro. Tem Ron Richard held an emergency meeting in his office Thursday afternoon with members of the committee that deals with the protocol.
The Senate Administrator noted that ideally, the staffer in Chappelle-Nadal’s office should have immediately called police instead of transporting the envelope across the third floor to the administrator’s office.
Senators discussed the idea of improving employee training for similar situations.
"It's nothing new but we also have to take this seriously because we have a lot of visitors in the building and what's especially important to me is our children that are in this building," Chappelle-Nadal said.
The hazmat team and Capitol police will continue to investigate.