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November 19, 2012

Suspicious powder sent to at least 4 businesses

Police: 'Mentally ill' Haverhill man eyed in investigation

(Continued)

The building is currently owned by Housing Support Inc. of Newburyport. In 2006, the group announced plans to renovate the building and create 10 apartments upstairs for people with special needs in danger of becoming homeless. A call to the agency went unanswered last night.

The regional Hazardous Materials Response Team which responded to all four sites yesterday is based in Danvers and has specially trained members from across the region.

Haverhill Fire Department Deputy Chief William Laliberty, a member of the team, said the material at Home Depot was tested and determined to be safe. The team was then sent to the Lawrence, Haverhill, and North Andover offices where the other envelopes were received. Each report came back identifying the powder as baking soda.

“We have a process, using bioterrorism testing, to identify the material,” Laliberty said. “We still have to send it to a lab to confirm this, but we have determined it is a non-credible threat and there is no danger to the public.”

Edwards praised the work of the firefighters and police who spent several hours outside his office yesterday waiting for investigators to arrive after being at Home Depot and Home Health VNA.

“The Fire Department did a superb job today,” Edwards said about the way emergency officials responded to his call.

Monday was supposed to be a routine “in-office” work day for Edwards. He appeared unfazed by the day’s events as they unfolded.

“It extended my weekend by a half a day,” he said. “It is an odd thing ... Some things happen in life you have no control over.”

Shawn Regan and Brian Messenger contributed to this report.

Be on the lookout If you receive a white powder-threat, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said: Do not handle the mail piece or package suspected of contamination. Make sure that damaged or suspicious items are isolated and the immediate area is cordoned off. Ensure that all persons who have touched the mail piece wash their hands with soap and water. Notify the police. List all persons who have touched the letter and/or envelope. Include contact information and have this information available for the police. As soon as practical, shower with soap and water. Typical characteristics of a suspicious letter include: Powdery substance on the outside of the letter or package. Inappropriate or unusual labeling. Excessive postage. Handwritten or poorly typed addresses. Misspelling of common words. Strange return address or no return address. Incorrect titles or title without a name. Not addressed to a specific person. Marked with restrictions, such as "Personal," "Confidential," or "Do not X-ray." Marked with any threatening language. Postmarked from a city or state that does not match the return address. Powdery substance felt through or appearing on the package or envelope. Oily stains, discolorations, or odor. Lopsided or uneven envelop. Excessive packaging material such as masking tape and string. Excessive weight.

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