Authorities investigate substance sent to Missouri lawmaker
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A mysterious green substance sent to a Missouri lawmaker who was censured by the Legislature last year for a Facebook post hoping for President Donald Trump’s assassination appears to pose no danger, officials said Thursday, and it’s not yet clear whether the package was intended as a threat.
Authorities are investigating after an assistant of Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal spotted the granular substance Thursday morning leaking from an envelope that was sent to the Capitol and addressed to the St. Louis-area Democrat. The assistant then took it and showed it to someone else in the Senate administrator’s office, and Capitol police were called.
Three firefighters in protective gear spent about 10 minutes in the offices of Chappelle-Nadal and the Senate administrator and left with several sealed plastic bags. A Cole County hazmat team that accompanied the Jefferson City firefighters and the Capitol police never suited up, according to Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell.
The source and intention of the package aren’t yet known, although Chappelle-Nadal later tweeted that the postmark was from Springfield, in southwest Missouri. The senator said she has received many death threats since the August Facebook post, which was later deleted. Chappelle-Nadal has also apologized.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Republican from Jefferson City, said on the Senate floor that Chappelle-Nadal’s office and the Senate administrator’s office would remain closed until lab results came back. The mailroom was also briefly closed.
Eight staffers were examined by medical personnel but showed no problematic symptoms and were released from quarantine.
Patrick Baker, the Senate administrator, said it was not ideal that the staffer who originally spotted the envelope didn’t immediately contact the Missouri Capitol Police. He said staff members had been trained for this type of situation, and he hopes the frequency of the training would increase in the future.
He also said an app was being developed in-house to alert staffers to possible threats.
“We wish to thank local first responders and members of law enforcement for their quick reaction to the issue,” Kehoe and Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, said in a written statement.