by Jessica Daley
There was a scary, unexpected and very long interruption in the Statehouse chambers Tuesday. An envelope filled with white powder caused a panic that sent the whole place into lockdown.
Debate in the Iowa House was halted after the clerk for Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, a Des Moines Democrat, opened a letter and out came the powder.
Both men were isolated, emergency crews were called, and the building went on lockdown.
Abdul-Samad and his clerk are not injured or sick.
Abdul-Samad said there was no name signed on the letter, but that it was very threatening to him.
"Shocking. Then you should get a grip and start the process because there's no sense in going into a panic," said Abdul-Samad.
HazMat and a government team called the 71st CST tested the white powder four times. Finally just before 8:00 p.m. they gave the all clear.
"We're not going to discuss what the product was," said Brian O'Keefe, public information officer for the Des Moines Fire Department. "We have handed over the samplings that we drew to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, and they'll purse that."
Authorities said they always take these threats seriously and wanted be completely sure the substance was not dangerous.