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Suspicious Envelope Found In Speaker Harwell's Office Deemed Non-Hazardous

Suspicious Envelope Found In Speaker Harwell's Office Deemed Non-Hazardous

CREATED Jun 26, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Hazardous materials crews were called to Legislative Plaza after an envelope containing a suspicious substance was opened by a staffer in House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office. The substance was deemed to be non-hazardous. 

Officials said the letter was opened around 9:45 a.m. Thursday by a staffer who found the questionable substance and immediately contact authorities.

Sergeant Bill Miller with the Tennessee Highway Patrol said a command post was set up by 9:47 a.m. to secure the area near the office as a precaution. Crews from the THP, TEMA, Nashville Fire Department and Metro Nashville Police Department were all called to the scene.

Roads around Legislative Plaza were closed as a result of all the emergency vehicles. 

At a press conference held around 11:15 a.m., Miller said they had not yet identified the substance. Several hours later, Miller confirmed the substance was non-toxic and not considered to be a threat. 

The name of the staffer was not released.

Miller said the building was not evacuated because the substance was contained to Speaker Harwell’s office. He said there were no known threats against the Speaker. 

The director of administration for the Tennessee General Assembly, Connie Ridley, said there were five employees who were getting checked out, including the person who opened the letter, one other person who was in the office and two others in mail services who may have been exposed to the substance.

No one was injured. 

People who work near Harwell’s office have been asked to stay in their own offices while troopers investigate.

“We notified our staff by email that we did have a suspicious package in the house speaker’s office. We’ve asked them to avoid the area. The area has been cordoned off. We’ve asked them to remain in their offices until they receive further information,” said Ridley.

The mail room has been secured and was expected to be examined for evidence. The incident remained under investigation.