Officials: Threats sent to McCain offices

Other News Materials 22 August 2008 06:19 (UTC +04:00)

Threatening letters containing an unidentified white powder were sent to John McCain campaign offices in Colorado and New Hampshire on Thursday, officials said. No injuries were immediately reported. ( AP )

At least 19 people were examined at hospitals or were quarantined outside the office in Centennial, Colo, a Denver suburb. The office was evacuated, and authorities were trying to determine whether the powder was hazardous.

A McCain campaign aide said the Manchester, N.H., office had been evacuated and the staffers underwent medical examinations.

No other details were immediately available from New Hampshire.

Jeff Sadosky, a spokesman with McCain's national campaign office in Arlington, Va, confirmed threatening letters were sent to the two offices.

Officials believe the Denver letter was a hoax sent by an inmate, according to a US government official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because nothing will be certain until the powder is tested.

The New Hampshire office called authorities when it saw a letter with Denver as the return address. The official did not know if it was the same return address as the Colorado letter.

Both letters were mailed from Denver, which currently is under a heightened state of security because of the Democratic National Convention that begins there Monday.

In Colorado, seven people drove themselves to Sky Ridge Medical Center, but none showed any symptoms of exposure to a toxic substance, hospital spokeswoman Linda Watson said.

Twelve people were quarantined outside the Colorado office, including three police officers, two firefighters and seven civilians, said Andy Lyon of Parker South Metro Fire Rescue Authority.

"Our guys did not find any powder. There were maybe a couple of grains of something inside an envelope and they had to kind of work to get a sample," Lyon said.

Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, said the agency was notified Thursday afternoon that a white substance had been found in the campaign office just south of Denver. A staffer opened the envelope, but it was not known whether any of the powder got on her hands.

Agents from the postal inspector's office were on the scene in Centennial. Officials with the FBI and the Arapahoe County, Colo., Sheriff's Department did not immediately return calls.