Local News

Package sickens immigration employees, prompts evacuation

Posted June 8, 2010 10:00 a.m. EDT
Updated June 8, 2010 6:33 p.m. EDT

— Durham police evacuated an immigration office Tuesday morning after employees found a suspicious package and three said they felt sick.

UPS delivered the package between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday to the U.S. Bureau of Citizen & Immigration Services office, at 301 Roycroft Drive. One employee said she felt nauseated and went home, police said.

On Tuesday, the employee returned to work, and she and two co-workers became ill, police said.

Police described the package as an envelope with an oily residue.

"We don't know what could be inside, and we don't know what the mindset of a person could be. With that, we have to make sure that safety comes first," said Capt. D.C. Allen of the Durham Police Department.

Authorities isolated the package and evacuated the building.

"We do know that there were no threats or anything that was attached to the package, and we do at this point have an idea where the package originated," Allen said.

The three employees underwent a decontamination process and were taken to a local hospital as a precaution after complaining of irritated eyes and upset stomachs, according to police. A fourth employee had already showered, so authorities said that person didn't need to go through decontamination.

Initial tests to determine if the package contained hazardous chemicals were negative.

Allen said the oily substance on the package had an odor, which might have been what sickened the employees.

People were allowed back in the building by 1 p.m., and immigration officials said operations returned to normal.