Officials revealed on Thursday that a new letter sent to President Barack Obama containing ricin was much like two other poisoned letters sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week, apparently over the gun control debate.
"The White House mail screening facility intercepted a letter addressed to the White House that were similar to letters previously addressed to Mayor Bloomberg in New York," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan told POLITICO. "This letter has been turned over to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force for testing and investigation."
The Associated Press reported that police have arrested a man in Spokane, Wash., in connection with the poisoned letter, which was sent from that location and intercepted on May 22.
Although initially it was not established whether the letter intercepted by the White House mail screening facility contained ricin, the FBI investigation confirmed that to be the case.
Officials have not yet released the contents of the letters, but said they address the gun control debate in America. Both Bloomberg and Obama have spoken out in favor of stricter gun control, in hopes that it will curb the rate of gun violence, though conservatives have warned that such efforts might infringe on citizens' Second Amendment rights.
New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly explained on Thursday that the same machine was used to produce the two letters sent to Bloomberg and the one sent to Obama. Kelly summarized the contents of the letters as warning that "anyone who comes for my guns will be shot in the face."
The New York Post reported on Friday that another man from Texas was being questioned in connection to the poisoned letters sent to Bloomberg. The man's wife apparently contacted FBI agents after she discovered "Tupperware [container] with what looks like ricin in the refrigerator," a source said, as well as directions on how to make the poison.
The letters sent to Bloomberg were intercepted at a Shreveport, La., mail facility and authorities are treating them as a separate case.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies ricin as a poison that is found naturally in castor beans. Affected individuals may experience difficulty with breathing, as well as vomiting and redness of skin.
"People have always sent threatening letters to public officials but they just haven't had substances in them. Now that there's ricin involved, it is unusual, to say the least," Police Commissioner Kelly explained.