|Friday, January 07, 2011 – Angela Jackson, Robert Lang and Associated Press|
|Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan says no one has been identified as a suspect related to the suspicious packages found at two state office buildings Thursday.
The packages were opened within 30 minutes of each other at the Jeffrey Building in Annapolis, where Governor Martin O’Malley’s mail is opened and at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters in Hanover.
Investigators believe the packages were sent by the same person described as a “lone wolf.”
Sheridan told reporters this afternoon that each package contained a note complaining about the overhead electronic highway signs which encourage motorists to report suspicious activity.
Sheridan said the note read “Report suspicious activity. Total bull****. You have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
The note had an “X” at the bottom of the page.
Sheridan said investigators are looking at anyone who may have made threats to Governor Martin O’Malley or Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley, or to state government.
“We are trying to figure out if it is someone with disdain for the state, the highway system,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan added that investigators do not have any suspects, or cannot say if there are other devices that may still be in the mail to other state offices.
“This is not a prank…It is a 20-year felony,” Sheridan added as he was describing the incident.
The packages did not explode, but did release a flash, some smoke and a sulfur-like odor when opened.
No one was seriously injured.
The two workers who opened the packages suffered singed fingers. Both were hospitalized briefly. Sheridan said that three other workers were also hospitalized briefly.
The incidents halted mailroom operations in state government offices. Sheridan says those operations resumed Friday.
However, a spokesman says the Maryland Department of Transportation is not accepting any incoming mail at its Hanover building. The spokesman says the facility may start accepting incoming mail either Monday or Tuesday.
Governor Martin O’Malley sent a letter to state employees today saying that various steps are being taken to keep them safe.
Letter from Governor Martin O’Malley to State Employees
After suspicious packages were found in various state agencies and mailroom operations halted yesterday, the governor tells state workers that precautions are being taken to ensure their safety. Governor Martin O’Malley released this message today.
Yesterday, two incidents at state government buildings disrupted the work day, and reminded us all that we are a community. I wanted take a moment to assure you – our valuable state workforce – that we are taking this matter seriously and we continue to take precautions to protect the public safety and our public employees.
Two separate packages arrived shortly after noon at both the Jeffrey Building in Annapolis and the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters in Hanover, containing each a small incendiary device that ignited when opened. The packages, while addressed to myself and to MDOT Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley, concerned all state employees as we quickly evacuated those buildings and suspended mail activity at all state agencies to determine the extent of the situation. Fortunately, thanks in part to the vigilance of state employees and the response of public safety agencies, no serious injury occurred.
Maryland State Police and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency have developed and distributed guidelines and protocols to resume mail activity at state buildings.
We will continue to take all appropriate and necessary precautions to ensure state employees are safe. In addition, the Maryland State Police continue to work with their partner public safety agencies to investigate the matter fully. We ask the continued vigilance of all state employees to report activity that appears suspicious or out of the ordinary by calling the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center at 1-800-492-TIPS.
Meanwhile, mailroom operations in at least one state university resumed this morning.
Via social networking, the University of Maryland Baltimore notified its followers about the change. Below is the posting from Facebook and Twitter.
We have an update on the temporary closure of the campus mailroom, from our Facilities and Maintenance boss: “Based on the information received about the mail situation from the State of Maryland and the Baltimore Police Department we took measures to ensure that our campus is safe. Our mail room is safe to work in and our mail is safe to handle. We are giving the all clear to resume regular mail operations.”