Substance found at offices not harmful

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A suspicious red substance found at offices of two Hampton Roads congressmen Friday was determined non-hazardous in both locations.

Battalion Chief Tim Riley with the Virginia Beach Fire Department said firefighters and a HAZMAT crew were on scene at Rep. Scott Rigell's office at 4772 Euclid Rd. Suite E in Virginia Beach.

Riley said the red, solid material was tested and determined non-hazardous. It was sent in a letter described as politically-oriented and non-threatening to Rigell's (R-VA) life. The material was transported to a crime lab in Richmond for further investigation. Officials are also investigating the origin of the envelope as a return address was left on the letter.

Capt. Scott Saunders with the Chesapeake Fire Department said a red, unknown substance was also found at Rep. Randy Forbes' office at 505 Independence Parkway, Suite 104 in Chesapeake.

Forbes' Communications Director Sergio Gor said a "flaky unidentified substance" was found in a suspicious package delivered to the congressman's district office.

Gor said Forbes (R-VA) was not at the office at the time the package was delivered. The substance was determined as non-hazardous late Friday afternoon.

"What it appears to be is a waxy substance, possibly used to seal the envelope that crumbled to the bottom so when the employee opened it, it looked like a powdery substance," Saunders said.

Saunders said the two substances appear to be similar, but officials do not yet know whether the incidents are related.

Capitol Police, the FBI and Homeland Security were on-hand Friday evening as well as local law enforcement. There were no injuries reported.

Rigell's office released the following statement Friday afternoon: 

"Earlier this afternoon a letter was received and opened in our Virginia Beach office which contained an unidentified substance. The local authorities as well as the United States Capitol Police were alerted and the office was immediately evacuated. The Virginia Beach fire and police departments responded with great speed and the letter was removed. It will be analyzed to determine if the contents were harmful in nature. Since the staff member who opened the letter immediately put it aside once the substance was noticed, the subject and intent of the letter is not known.  The Congressman’s staff are fine and we appreciate the urgency and thoroughness of our local first responders."

Offices of Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) told 10 On Your Side their offices have not received reports of unknown substances at their respective locations.

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