Local reports of suspicious items
Terrorism in Reno in the form of an anthrax-laced letter raised suspicions in El Dorado County over the weekend and led to investigations of everything from mysterious bags of white powder to toilet paper lint.
A Meyers resident called 911 after she discovered a golf-ball size mound of white powder underneath a newspaper on her driveway at 2280 Del Norte St. on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
“Due to recent Reno news the resident basically was being safe,” said Todd Crawford, El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy officer of Emergency Services. “If it turns out to be nothing that’s the end of the story. If it’s something we’ll notify the FBI office. Most of these things are found to be harmless material.”
Lake Valley Fire Protection District and El Dorado County Environmental Management cleaned up the powder and sent a sample of it to a lab in Berkeley. It normally takes two days to get results but tests now could take longer because of a backlog created by terrorism, Crawford said.
Inside city limits, a man on Capistrano Avenue called police Saturday night after he noticed a white substance inside a newly opened roll of toilet paper. It turned out to be lint from the paper, said South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Brian Williams.
A bag of white powder was reported Sunday afternoon at Lodi Avenue and Williams Avenue. Also Sunday, a resident on Blackwood Road called police about a suspicious letter they got in the mail. Williams said police determined the letter was OK after contacting the Nevada Department of Emergency Management, which already received calls about the mailings.
Suspicious items also surfaced in a Pollock Pines real estate office and at Marshall Hospital in Placerville. Investigations began at the hospital after a person who handled a specific piece of mail began to feel ill. In Pollock Pines, employees got worried after they threw away a letter that they believed had white powder on it.
Investigators took samples to test from a garbage liner even though the letter had already been taken to the dump. “All indications is that it was nothing, but we sent it through to double check,” Crawford said.
Williams is asking South Lake Tahoe residents to evaluate something suspicious with “good common sense” before reporting it to police.
“If there are truly some suspicious circumstances around the finding then it’s worth calling in,” he said. “We haven’t seen across the nation a massive release of anthrax. We’re not looking at some kind of epidemic. Just use good common sense, don’t get too frightened.”
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