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Brooklyn Courthouse Gets Letter With Suspicious Powder

May 7 (Bloomberg) -- An envelope containing a suspicious powder and a letter describing it as anthrax was received in the clerk’s office at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, court officials said.

The New York City fire and police departments responded to the report today and are investigating the white powdery substance. The fire department was called to the courthouse at 3:59 p.m., an official with the department said.

The department said as many as 21 people are being evaluated for exposure. As many as three people may need to be decontaminated, said Charles Dunne, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of New York.

As of 5:30 p.m., a hallway leading to the clerk’s office in the south wing of the courthouse had been taped off, and police, firefighters and other emergency personnel were on the scene.

The building hadn’t been evacuated. A portion of the elevators were temporarily shut down “due to police activity that’s going on in our lobby,” according to a notice over the court’s public address system.

Courthouse officials said the powder will be tested to determine whether it’s harmful. The courthouse and the clerk’s office are expected to be open tomorrow, Eugene J. Corcoran, courthouse district executive, said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Christie Smythe in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, at csmythe1@bloomberg.net; Chris Dolmetsch in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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