Device similar to ones mailed to Maryland officials earlier
WASHINGTON – A package addressed to the U.S. Homeland Security secretary ignited Friday at a postal facility, and authorities said it was similar to fiery parcels sent to Maryland officials a day earlier by someone complaining about the state’s terrorism tip line.
The suspicious package was discovered by an employee at the D.C. facility when it began popping and smoking, and it emitted “a brief flash of fire” before extinguishing itself, D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier said. The details were very much like what Maryland authorities described Thursday after workers at state government buildings opened the book-size packages. There, the workers’ fingers were singed.
Authorities were bracing for more packages to surface.
“Right now we don’t have any other packages, but we’re not taking anything for granted,” Lanier said.
The D.C. package was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Authorities wouldn’t say whether it contained a note.
In July, Napolitano launched a nationwide “see something, say something” campaign. Her recorded voice can be heard in Washington-area Metro stations, asking commuters to report suspicious behavior.
The Maryland packages had a message railing against highway signs urging motorists to report suspicious activity by calling a toll-free number.
Washington Mayor Vincent Gray called the person who sent the packages “incredibly irresponsible” and said sending them was a “cowardly, reprehensible act.”
The earlier packages, addressed to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and to Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley, have been taken to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., for forensic analysis, and Lanier said the D.C. package would also be sent there.
The packages did not contain explosive material. Officials have declined to speculate on whether the incendiary devices worked as intended or were supposed to cause more harm.