The call came in at 10:40 a.m. Thursday. Security personnel at an immigration facility in St. Albans told police they intercepted a suspicious package in the mailroom.
"We immediately implemented our evacuation process to secure that space and get all of the employees out of the building," said Karen Fitzgerald of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Seven hundred contractors and government employees watched as police and FBI secured the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Offices on Lower Weldon Street. Staff members were eventually sent home as the Vermont State police bomb squad and hazmat teams arrived on the scene.
It's not unusual for this facility to receive thousands of pieces of mail every day. But it is unusual when one of those packages sets off the X-ray machine. Officials say that was the first clue that the package didn't contain paper applications.
"It looked like not a traditional package," Fitzgerald said. "You know something that appeared to be wire-like."
A bomb retrieval robot equipped with a camera was sent in to get a better look at the package. Turns out the FedEx envelope did contain wires and metal, but it was not a bomb.
"It's like a big singing card. It has the electronic circuit board and the battery," St. Albans Police Chief Gary Taylor said.
Immigration officials say the musical greeting card was sent in along with a visa application.
Taylor says given the recent anniversary of Osama bin Laden's killing, he wasn't taking any chances with bomb scares.
"I have to be safe and right 100 percent of the time. The bad guy only has to be good at what he does once," Taylor said. "So based on an assessment made by myself and other team members, we felt that it was suspicious enough that it warranted special handling and that's what it got."
The best possible ending to a potentially dangerous situation during a time of heightened security.
A spokesperson for the facility says this is the first time the building had to be evacuated for an incident like this. The facility reopened at 4 p.m.
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