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White powder in letter to McCain not anthrax

/ Source: The Associated Press

The suspicious white powder found in a letter sent to a Colorado campaign office for Republican presidential candidate John McCain is not anthrax or another lethal substance, officials determined Friday.

The Colorado National Guard Civil Support Team completed its testing of the powder around 2 a.m. EDT (1800 GMT) Friday, Guard spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said. Officials do not know what the powder is, but they determined it was not lethal.

Thursday's scare had sent at least 19 people to hospitals for testing.

Officials said the threatening letter was sent by an inmate at the Arapahoe Detention Center. Arapahoe County Sheriff's officials identified the inmate suspected of sending the letter as 39-year-old Marc Harold Ramsey, who has been incarcerated since September 2007 on investigation of felony menacing, harassment and second-degree assault on a peace officer. Ramsey may face federal felony charges for Thursday's incident, sheriff's officials said.

There are 55 National Guard teams across the country that respond to such sorts of incidents. Three of these teams will be in Denver next week for the Democratic convention to respond and walk the floor of the Pepsi Center to diffuse situations and reduce false alarms such as Thursday's.

The Secret Service — which provides protection to the candidates — said a separate letter scare in a New Hampshire campaign office was a false alarm. When the New Hampshire office received a letter with a Denver postmark, officials became concerned after hearing about the letter with white powder in Colorado.

Both the Colorado and New Hampshire offices were evacuated.

Anthrax has been in the news recently because the FBI announced it had a suspect in the 2001 deadly anthrax attacks. The suspect, Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins, killed himself July 29.