Photo by East Oregonian (AP)
Photo by E.J. Harris/East Oregonian via AP.
Last Monday, Hermiston firefighters in hazmat suits carry what was reported as a suspicious letter from a car at the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, in Pendleton. The FBI says no toxic substances have been found in letters sent to about 20 Oregon sheriffs or their offices.
As of Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Eugene (AP) — A Eugene area man was detained for questioning and then released late Tuesday in connection with suspicious letters that were sent to 24 county sheriff’s offices, including Hood River and Wasco counties, two Portland TV stations reported.
The man did not appear to pose a risk to the public, and was released on unspecified misdemeanor charges, state police Lt. Bill Fugate told KATU-TV. The man could face additional charges after the district attorneys in each of the respective counties that received letters investigate the case, Fugate told the station.
About 20 suspicious letters were delivered to sheriffs around the state but hazardous materials crews found “no toxic substance” or “visible powder” in any of the envelopes, said Beth Anne Steele, Portland FBI Public Information Officer. The case is still under investigation.
The individual’s name has not been released, but Fugate confirmed that the man is from the Eugene area, the station said.
KPTV in Portland said police have not speculated on what the man’s motive might have been, but said they do not believe there is any remaining threat.
The FBI and state police launched a statewide investigation Monday after multiple sheriff’s offices received the letters. Sheriffs around the state reported receiving envelopes containing rambling, incoherent messages.
The Association of Oregon Counties reported that 24 of Oregon’s 36 counties received a suspicious envelope. “AOC is deeply concerned that someone would target Oregon county sheriffs with this kind of a threat,” the association said in a statement.
The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office received a suspicious letter Monday, but a HAZMAT analysis yielded no evidence of hazardous materials.
Oregon State Police Lt. Patrick Shortt of The Dalles command said every Sheriff’s Office in the Gorge received suspicious mail, including Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties. Shortt said none of the local mail proved dangerous.
Initial reports suggested that some of the letters or envelopes might have included a toxic substance or white powder. However, the FBI later reported that field testing by hazardous materials crews showed no such substances or powder.
However, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer was taken to a hospital on Monday after he opened a letter at his office in Canyon City and felt a burning sensation in his face and arms, a metallic taste in his mouth, and numbness and tingling in his lips.
Palmer said he secured the letter in an evidence bag and had his wife take him to the hospital. He was held for observation, but doctors didn’t determine a cause for his symptoms, he said. He was back at work Tuesday.