Suspicious Package at Capitol Found to be Harmless

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The FBI has taken over the investigation of a suspicious package delivered Monday afternoon to the office of Gov. Brian Schweitzer in the state Capitol.

The Capitol was evacuated after a powdery substance came out of an envelope addressed to the governor.

State officials isolated the governor’s mail room and shut down the Capitol air handling system. The substance was taken to the State Public Health Lab for analysis. Early results showed the substance did not pose a threat to human health, said Sheryl Olson, spokeswoman for the Department of Administration.

Once that determination was released by the state medical officer, Dr. Steven Helgerson, the Capitol was reopened at about 4:45 p.m., Olson said.

Olson described the suspicious material as a “white powdery substance.”

Officials at the state lab said final results of the substance analysis might not be available until Tuesday.

Olson said the results will be turned over to the FBI as part of their investigation.

She said state business would resume as normal on Tuesday.

The governor’s office said Schweitzer was in his office when the building was evacuated. He was moved to the nearby executive residence.

Similar packages were reported Monday in Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan and Rhode Island. There were no reports of injuries and preliminary tests found the powders sent to Alabama, Mississippi and Rhode Island were not harmful. Test results were still pending in Michigan and the Missouri letter never made it to state offices.