Tags: ricin | probe

Man in Texas Questioned in Ricin Letters

Image: Man in Texas Questioned in Ricin Letters Letters suspected of being laced with the deadly poison ricin were sent last week to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and to an official with the gun law lobby that he supports, police said.

Friday, 31 May 2013 07:03 AM

 

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FBI agents are questioning a man from New Boston, Texas, whose wife called authorities after she noticed strange material in her refrigerator, and noticed computer searches for ricin, federal sources tell ABC News.

The source told the news outlet the development was a promising lead in the case.

Images obtained exclusively by ABC News of one of the threatening letters sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg show the substance authorities suspect is ricin.

The images show globs of a pinkish, tan substance splattered on a typed letter bearing an anti-gun control message. A similar letter was sent to President Obama at the White House and a Bloomberg-connected office in Washington D.C., police said.

"You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns," the letter reads. "Anyone wants to come to my house will be shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right 'til the day I die. What's in this letter is nothing compared to what I've got planned for you."

The letters never made it to Obama or Bloomberg and today the U.S. Postal Service said none of the letters posed a health risk. The letters -- all reportedly with identical text -- are postmarked May 20 from Shreveport, La.

FBI agents are aslo investigating a Spokane, Washington, man charged with sending a letter containing the poison ricin to a federal judge said “similar letters” to President Barack Obama, the Central Intelligence Agency, a U.S. Air Force Base and the U.S. Post Office.

The letters to Obama and the Spokane post office were intercepted and found to contain active ricin toxin, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The contents of the letter to Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane continue to undergo testing, while the letter to the CIA hasn’t been found, the FBI said.

“Active monitoring of the mail stream continues in an effort to locate this letter and mitigate any risk its contents might pose,” the FBI said, adding that it’s unlikely a member of the public would encounter it.

The FBI and the New York City Police Department are also investigating anonymous letters threatening Mayor Michael Bloomberg that tested positive for ricin. That probe is also examining similar correspondence to Obama and to Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington. Bloomberg is co-chairman of the coalition, which is a national bipartisan group of mayors, according to its website.

Person of Interest

 

Katy Chaumont, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Dallas, said in a phone interview that no arrests have been made in the Texas connection.

“The ricin matter is an ongoing investigation and a number of FBI offices are looking at this,” she said.

The letters sent to New York and Washington were postmarked in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 20, according to a statement posted on the website of the American Postal Workers Union.

Matthew Ryan Buquet was charged May 22 with threatening U.S. District Judge Frederick Van Sickle in Spokane, in a letter sent with ricin. A total of five letters are now part of the investigation, the FBI in Spokane said in yesterday’s statement.

Mississippi Arrest

This month’s incidents in Spokane, New York and Washington follow the arrest of a Tupelo, Mississippi, man in April on charges of mailing ricin-laced letters to Obama and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker.

James Everett Dutschke was charged with producing a biological agent for use as a weapon. Dutschke, a former martial arts instructor, was arrested on April 27, four days after federal prosecutors dropped charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, an Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Mississippi. A lawyer for Curtis had told a federal judge during a court hearing that he may have been framed by Dutschke because the men had a long- running feud.

Ricin is made from castor beans and has been used experimentally in medicine to kill cancer cells, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It’s harmful and potentially fatal if inhaled or ingested, according to the CDC.

The mayor of New York is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg said he didn’t feel threatened or angered by the letters.

“In terms of why they’ve done it, I don’t know,” Bloomberg told reporters. “The letter obviously referred to our anti-gun efforts, but there’s 12,000 people that are going to get killed this year with guns and 19,000 that are going to commit suicide with guns, and we’re not going to walk away from those efforts. And I know I speak for all of the close-to 1,000 mayors in the Mayors’ Coalition Against Guns. This is a scourge on the country that we just have to make sure that we get under control and eliminate.”


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