Anthrax hoax shuts Georgia courthouse

A white powdery substance falling out of an envelope recently caused the closure and evacuation of a Georgia courthouse.

The Brantley County Courthouse was closed for approximately three hours after a court clerk opened a letter with the return address of a state prison inmate, according to

The courthouse was re-opened after the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined that the substance was harmless.

“Some dust particles came out when I opened with a letter opener,’’ Clerk of Court Cindy Crews said, reports. “Then I tapped it and there was a poof of dust.”

Crews asked Magistrate Jeff Thomas for advice when she noticed that the powder was on her blouse. Thomas recommended that the county sheriff be called. The sheriff, in turn, evacuated the building and the FBI was summoned.

Crews said that the envelope came to her office inside a plastic sleeve that usually indicates that a piece of mail was damaged. Crews inserted the envelope into a plastic bag before leaving the building.

“Most every time I’ve heard something like this reported, it turns out to be a hoax, but there are those times that it’s not,’’ County Manager Parrish Barwick said, reports. “We have to follow protocols and let law enforcement do its job.”