Jan. 16, 2007 — Federal authorities have not yet released any information on a mysterious package that was delivered early Tuesday morning to the clerk's office at the Ron de Lugo Federal Building on St. Thomas.
Speaking off the record, however, officials at the scene said that the package, which was opened between 9 and 9:30 a.m., either emitted or contained an unidentified white substance. One source, also speaking off the record, identified the substance as corn starch.
Sources say that employees on the third floor of the building, where the clerk's office is located, were evacuated around 10 a.m. However, other federal court employees remained inside the building while officials investigated the matter.
Responding to the scene were members of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, along with V.I. Fire Services and Emergency Management Services.
Members of the Hazardous Materials (HazMat) squad were also sent into the building to collect the package. After about an hour inside, officials were seen leaving with a black plastic bag and a white bucket, which was put inside an armored vehicle and taken away.
Around 11 a.m., two more plastic bags were brought out. However, when asked around noon about the situation's status, Chief U.S. Deputy Marshall Reginald Bradshaw said that the package was still inside the building and that more information would be released to the public later in the afternoon.
To give local emergency response teams access to the building, a portion of the Waterfront road (stretching down from the Lover's Lane intersection to the traffic light in front of the Alexander A. Farrelly Justice Complex) was closed. This resulted in heavy traffic congestion in the downtown area, as long lines of cars were piled up in the opposite direction, stretching beyond the Legislature building and Vendor's Plaza.
The road running alongside the Justice Complex and the Fort Christian parking lot, which remained open, was also packed with vehicles, with V.I. Police Department officials directing traffic along Norre Gade.
Employees were allowed back into the federal building around 11:30 p.m., with HazMat responders leaving the scene approximately 30 minutes later. Officials from the U.S. Marshall's Service stayed behind to continue the investigation.
According to Glenn "Milo" Francis, acting head of Fire Services, local officials are unable to release any information, since the incident now falls under federal jurisdiction. However, Francis said the building is considered a "crime scene" and that HazMat responders did their part by retrieving the package.
The Source will provide further updates as they become available.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.