Bioterror scare in Florida

Jacksonville emergency workers responded to a bioterror threat Monday after a man opened an envelope that contained a suspicious substance, according to the Florida Times-Union.

An unidentified Mandarin man was taken to Memorial Hospital Jacksonville Monday for observation after he opened an envelope containing a suspicious substance at his Sugar Mill apartment on Crown Point Road.

The incident also scrambled the Jacksonville fire department’s hazardous material team to test, then seal up the unknown material for further testing as police cordoned off the neighborhood for hours.

Fire department spokesman Tom Francis said the man opened the letter just before 1 p.m. and felt nauseous.

Until more thorough tests are done at the Duval County Health Department, it won’t be clear what was mailed to the man, said Lt. Andy Morgan of the Homeland Security Division of the Sheriff’s Office.

“They will do preliminary checks to see if there are any biological threat, radiological threat, or any chemical threat,” Morgan said. “We are all hoping that there really isn’t.”

Detectives checked the mailbox in front of the apartment, then a firefighter with face mask, air tank, gloves and a test meter went inside about 4 p.m. as a safety precaution. Once he came out a few minutes later, a woman identified by neighbors as the man’s wife, wearing Middle Eastern head scarf and burka, was allowed inside after she donned gloves.

She did not answer the door when reporters knocked.

Police said finals tests could be done by Tuesday but wouldn’t describe what else was on or in the mailed envelope.