Investigation into white powder to keep NL homeless center closed

Hazardous materials responders from the Submarine Base Fire Department, front, and Connecticut State Police emerge from the Homeless Hospitality Center after retrieving suspicious materials there Monday, April 30, 2012.
Hazardous materials responders from the Submarine Base Fire Department, front, and Connecticut State Police emerge from the Homeless Hospitality Center after retrieving suspicious materials there Monday, April 30, 2012. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

New London — The city’s homeless hospitality center, at 19 Jay St., is scheduled to remain closed after a man on Monday opened an envelope containing a suspicious white powder, police said.

The contents of the envelope spilled out onto the individual and floor of the building, police said, prompting a center staff member to evacuate the building.

The call came in around 3:47 p.m. City police and firefighters and the submarine base hazardous materials team responded for what police called a “powder incident.”

The letter was addressed to Miguel Ramos, said his brother, Enrique Ramos, but it had no return address. When Miguel Ramos opened the manila envelope, a white powder spilled out onto him and the floor, Enrique Ramos said.

About 15 people waited in the parking lot outside the center after the evacuation and were moved back out of the lot as emergency personnel investigated. State police units arrived, as did the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Emergency Response Unit, Ledge Light Health District and the FBI.

Watching the emergency response outside the center after the evacuation, Enrique Ramos could only speculate as to why someone would send his brother such a letter, calling it “most likely a prank.”

About two hours after the original call, two men donned hazmat suits and entered the building, eventually exiting with a garbage bag full of materials.

A state police officer said on-scene testing of the powder came back negative but that the suspicious powder will undergo further laboratory testing.

Emergency crews began leaving the scene around 6:30 p.m., almost three hours after the original call.

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