Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis FBI office, announced late last week that the FBI is investigating the mailings of 13 threatening letters containing a white powder substance. Eight of the letters were addressed to Home Depot stores in the Twin Cities area, and five were addressed to Renewal By Andersen businesses in the Twin Cities area.
According to an FBI press release, the first letter was received on December 31, 2010, and the most recent letter was received on January 6, 2011. The Home Depot stores receiving the letters are located in Hudson, Wisconsin, Inver Grove Heights, Eagan, Maplewood, Apple Valley, Forest Lake, Hastings, and Woodbury. The Renewal By Andersen businesses receiving the letters are located in Edina, Burnsville, Roseville, Bayport, and Cottage Grove.
The FBI is in possession of the threatening letters and the envelopes. The return address on each envelope is identical. The letters received by the businesses are exactly the same letter that appears to have been photocopied. The white powder substance present in the first 12 letters has been analyzed by the State of Minnesota Department of Health Lab in St. Paul. The substance in each letter has been identified as sodium bicarbonate, and is not toxic or otherwise dangerous. The substance in the last letter received has not yet been analyzed, and that analysis will likely not be completed before early next week.
The FBI, the United States Postal Investigation Service, the Minnesota National Guard 55th Civil Support Team, the Minnesota Department of Health, and local law enforcement agencies from the cities where the letters have been received are investigating. The use, threat of use, attempted use, or conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, such as a hazardous material, is a federal offense. Anyone with information concerning this investigation is asked to contact the FBI at 612/376-3200.
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