Suspicious Powder Found at Staples and UVA

Amber writes: A suspicious white powder was found at Staples office supply store in Shopper’s World yesterday. A customer left the store without paying for his copies and left behind some sort of white powder. Seminole Trail firefighters suited up in haz-mat uniforms and removed the substance. It has been taken to a Richmond lab for analysis. The FBI is investigating.

A mysterious pink powder was also found on the steps of Casteen’s office at UVA on Friday. The UVA police department and health department are still investigating. Two security guards were taken to the hospital for possible exposure to the powder and were released.

The Daily Progress has the story.

8 thoughts on “Suspicious Powder Found at Staples and UVA”

  1. There have apparantly been thousands of these cases all over the world since the incidents with Anthrax in Florida and at NBC. Hundreds of people obviously just thought, “Hey, I can just mail some flour to someone and it’ll totally freak them out and gather a lot of attention.” While the act itself is harmless, it’s unfortunate because it ends up drawing a lot of resources from agencies that could really be much more useful expending those resources elsewhere on other things.

  2. The progress reports that the “pink powder” was chalk dust. Far from dangerous.

    It seems strange that people call in the hazmat team when they find any powder like substance. We live with powders every day, where do we stop? Do we call the FBI because there is a “white powder” in the salt shaker when we go out to eat? When is something normal and when is it abnormal?

  3. Daily Progress reports the Staples incident has turned up negative, too.

    Have some compassion for the people who have encountered these things and reacted the way they have – I can’t say I wouldn’t react similarly.

    Neither of these things is remotely close to salt in a salt shaker.

  4. It’s people reacting the way they have that are causing the problem. How can the law enforcement and medical community keep up with the real threats when they have 2500+ false alarms to contend with?

    The reality is, you can be killed in any number of ways, anthrax being one of the most rare. You’re more likely to be hit by a bus. We’re not calling the cops every time we see a bus drive by are we?

    Leaving some powder outside is not a sophisticated attack, if it does go airborne it will simply blow away and disperse to a concentration that simply cannot cause pulmonary anthrax. The powder found at staples is amateurish because staples is simply not a valuable target, it’s a large open space with very few people. In fact, you should be more concerned about the salt in your salt shakers than some powder left where it shouldn’t be.

    The lethality of an anthrax attack is dependant on its suprise. Nobody thinks twice about consuming food, but nobody is going to swallow/snort some pink chalk they find on the sidewalk. Florida is the only lethal attack to date, and there is no “letter” or “powder” involved. If there had been such a letter found, it wouldn’t have been a suprise, and might not have been deadly.

    Anthrax hoaxes are not new, there have been hundreds in the past year. During several periods in 1999 there were anthrax hoaxes every single day. Because of this the FBI failed to investigate the incident at NBC news in new york for several days thinking it to be yet another hoax. Only after the case in FL was confirmed as anthrax did the FBI take the NBC case seriously.

    If someone really wanted to kill with anthrax as opposed to just a hoax with “powder”, it would be easy to do so without arousing any suspicions. If you think that every time you see a powder it is some kind of global conspiracy that threatens your little insignificant life, I suggest you get diagnosed for paranoid schizophrenia.

  5. So what you’re saying is it’s safe to eat the powdered donut from Krispy Kreme that nobody in the office ate this morning? YES!

    In fairness to folks who are legitimately frightened by this scare (let’s face it, it isn’t everyday you see two huge office buildings and many of their occupants reduced to rubble in an hour), it would probably help if the media provided an illustration of what exactly has been found so that people can make a more rational decision before they freak out and call the CDC. Talcum powder, salt, flour, powdered sugar, and many other “white powders” actually look quite different from one another, but I haven’t the foggiest which one looks like the Anthrax blend that’s being delivered in the US Mail.

    But until somebody comes down with Smallpox, we’ll just have to get use to Anthrax hysteria.

  6. The goal of these attacks is to instill fear in Americans. Thats why they’re going to news organizations first, those are the people who promote fear, and have been for quite some time before the first anthrax case broke. Because of this, it would be egotistical to assume that the terrorists are after you. Once the fear wears off they may have to resort to killing large numbers of americans to get any reaction, but judging from the current hysteria, it will be a long time before that happens.

    The sad reality, that most of us refuse to accept, is that there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves. People need to feel like they are in control of their own life. Even when they are clearly not in control. Just look at the people who jumped to their death from the WTC. They knew they were going to die, and at least wanted to have some control over their fate.

    We’d all be a lot better off if we would just calm down and accept that death will come no matter what we do. Its all a matter of time. Enjoy it while you can instead of suffering from anxiety over what may or may not happen to you in the future.

  7. My point is, talking to people like they’re idiots for being scared is ludicrous. and just mean. most of us have never seen anything like this in our lives, and are terrified. yes, that’s what the terrorists want, and no, that’s not a good enough argument to keep most people from being afraid. offering real knowledge, good reasons why they should not be scared should be the first course of action, not a method of defending reactionary finger-pointing.

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