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Police Say Ricin-Laced Letters Sent To New York Mayor Bloomberg

New York Mayor Bloomberg speaks out for gun reform at a March news conference in New York.
John Moore
Getty Images
New York Mayor Bloomberg speaks out for gun reform at a March news conference in New York.

Police in New York say preliminary tests of two threatening letters sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of ricin.

The anonymous letters, both addressed to Bloomberg, were opened Friday in New York at the city's mail facility and Sunday in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters of the nonprofit started by Bloomberg, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, according to authorities.

Reuters, quoting a police statement, reports that both letters "contained threats against Bloomberg and mentioned the gun debate."

Police say preliminary testing indicated the presence of the deadly poison ricin. They say mail sorting personnel who came into contact with the letters were not showing any symptoms, but that some officers who later examined the one in New York were, according to The Associated Press.

NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports that the letters were going for secondary testing to confirm the results, because preliminary tests are sometimes inaccurate.

The AP reports that chief New York City police spokesman Paul Browne says both letters contained "an oily pinkish-orange substance" but he would not comment on specific threats or where the letters were postmarked.

Update at 8:50 p.m. ET. Police Won't Say If They Think Both Letters From Same Person:

Police spokesman Browne wouldn't say if the letters were handwritten or typed, the AP reports. He also declined to say if investigators thought both letters were from the same person nor whether they might be linked to with other ricin cases.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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