U.S. District Court shut down after anthrax threat
On Friday morning, a mail clerk at the building opened an envelope containing a letter and a suspicious white powder. U.S. Marshal for New Jersey Juan Matos said that the letter claimed the powder was anthrax and also said that there was a bomb in the building, according to Philly.com.
The building was immediately placed on lockdown and a K-9 unit checked the area for explosives. None were found. Testing for the white powder came back negative for anthrax or other potentially dangerous biological agents.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation was called to the scene to look into the incident. The letter is currently undergoing further forensic analysis at a state police laboratory in Hamilton.
Anthrax hoaxes have become relatively commonplace in the United States since a series of actual anthrax mailings were carried out in 2001. The attacks killed five people and infected 17 others. The FBI alleged that Bruce Ivins, a biodefense researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, was responsible.
Anthrax hoaxes were reported sporadically in the 1990s, but since the 2001, their number has proliferated. In the five months after the first of the 2001 attacks, the FBI reported that 40 individuals had been charged with anthrax hoaxes and threats, according to the Los Angeles Times.