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Suspicious Package Forces Evacuation of Vt. Senate Office of Bernie Sanders

The mail was later deemed to be harmless, police said

A suspicious package forced the evacuation of the Burlington office of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Thursday.

Burlington Police would not discuss specifics about the package, citing an ongoing investigation, but indicated a worker in the office had concerns over a piece of mail’s visual appearance late Thursday morning.

The evacuation affected the senator’s U.S. Senate office at the top of Church Street, not his presidential campaign office.

An investigation by the Vermont State Police bomb squad determined the mail was not explosive, and was physically harmless, Burlington Police said.

The building got the all-clear late Thursday afternoon.

Vermont’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Patrick Leahy, was targeted by anthrax in 2001, so Thursday’s call to Sanders’s office was taken with an added level of seriousness, police said, noting that all such calls are taken seriously.

“One of our senators is one of the few in the country to have been the victim of an attack with a weapon of mass destruction,” Deputy Chief Jon Murad of the Burlington Police Department said after the all-clear was given. “That’s a very real thing. These things can be real. They’re very often not, but they can be and we have to take them very seriously.”

While Murad declined to describe what about the mail raised worry in the office staff, he said in general terms that the U.S. Postal Service has published a list of warning signs about mail. Those can include too much postage, oddly-worded addresses, tape used in erratic ways, recipients who don’t exist, or other strange sights on packages or envelopes, Murad said.

U.S. Postal Service inspectors will now look into the origins and intent of the mail to Sanders’s Senate office, Murad said.

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