Nathaniel Richardson, a Texas Army veteran, is being questioned in connection with poison letters sent to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after his wife found a container in their refrigerator filled with what appeared to be ricin.
Father-of-five Nathaniel Richardson is a civilian employee of the Department of Defense who works at the Red River Army Depot. Sources said he is being treated as a person of interest.
His wife, actress Shannon Glass, told officers that as well as the container in the fridge, she also found internet searches related to ricin production, Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg on their computer.
The development comes two days after it emerged that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun group were sent two ricin-laced letters. On Thursday, it was revealed that another, identical letter was sent to President Barack Obama.
Nathaniel Richardson, 37, was taken into police custody but has not been arrested. He is not considered a suspect at this time, reports the New York Post.
Neighbors said he worked at the Red River Army Depot, which was once used as an ammunition storage facility, and which now repairs Humvees and other military vehicles.
Shannon Glass, 35, is a model and actress who has had small roles in The Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead. She is pregnant with her sixth child.
It comes after one of the ricin-tainted letters intended for Michael Bloomberg was pictured for the first time.
The envelope shows the letter, posted on May 20, was postmarked at Shreveport, Louisiana, where other letters intended for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama were also handled.
Sources said that Nathaniel Richardson has connections to Shreveport. The city’s postal center handles mail from Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, KSLA reported.
The typed threat in the letter, splattered with the poisonous substance, is also shown. It tells the pro-gun control mayor: “You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns.
“Anyone wants to come to my house will be shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right ’til the day I die.
“What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”
The letter sent to Barack Obama contained the same chilling text, sources said on Thursday.
Army veteran Nathaniel Richardson is being questioned in connection with poison letters sent to Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg
The letter to the president was received at a mail screening facility and did not reach the White House, law enforcement sources told NBC4.
One of the letters sent to Michael Bloomberg was retrieved at the City Hall, and the second arrived at the headquarters of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which Bloomberg operates and personally finances.
They contained threats warning him to stay away from the gun laws debate, authorities said.
NYPD officials said the threatening letters were opened on Friday in New York at the city’s mail facility and on Sunday in Washington at the headquarters of the nonprofit.
Three members of the NYPD fell ill after being exposed to the letters, which contained a “pink, orange oily substance”, authorities said. Their symptoms have since subsided.
Michael Bloomberg, speaking Friday on his weekly WOR Radio show, shrugged off any specter of danger.
“There’s always threats, unfortunately. That comes with the job,” he said.
“I trust the police department and I feel perfectly safe. I’ve got more danger from lightning than from anything else and I’ll go about my business.”
On Wednesday, he said it would not scare him away from engaging in the debate over gun laws.
“There’s 12,000 people that are going to get killed this year with guns and 19,000 that are going to commit suicide with guns, and we’re not going to walk away from those efforts,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
“And I know I speak for all of the close to 1,000 mayors in Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” he said.
“This is a scourge on the country that we just have to make sure that we get under control and eliminate.”
It is not yet known why it took the FBI and the NYPD five days to announce the discovery.
The matter is being investigated by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force which said that the letter sent to Manhattan for billionaire Michael Bloomberg arrived at 100 Gold Street – the home of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Both the New York and Washington D.C. notes were addressed to Michael Bloomberg and contained threats referencing the debate on gun laws.
The second letter to the mayor was opened by Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, who has not been reported to have fallen ill.
The NYPD confirmed preliminary testing indicated the presence of ricin.
“The FBI has an investigation ongoing and so things like the exact wording and the postmarks, etc. we’re not going to disclose,” NYPD deputy commissioner Paul Browne told WCBS 880.
“It was a pink-orange oily substance that subsequently, in the preliminary tests, indicate the presence of ricin.”
Ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans.
It’s not clear if the letters were related to other threatening, ricin-laced letters sent to other lawmakers recently.
Authorities are now “in the process of searching to determine if there may be additional letters”, according to the statement.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is an outspoken critic of current gun laws and has campaigned nationally and on Capitol Hill for stricter gun legislation – using his own considerable wealth to fund commercials.
The confirmation of ricin present in both letters came through on Wednesday from the National Bioforensic Analysis Center in Maryland.
Ricin symptoms depend on the amount of exposure and dose received, but within a few hours lead to cough, fever, nausea, tightness in the chest and heavy breathing.
Death follows through fluid buildup in the lungs.
Several ricin-laced letters have been sent to U.S. politicians over the past few months – including one addressed to President Barack Obama in mid-April.
The Shreveport postal hub handles mail from parts of Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.
A Mississippi man, James Everett Duschke stands accused of making the poison ricin and sending those letters – which also went to Senator Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge.
Initially, a friend of James Everett Dutschke’s, Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested, but he claimed he had been framed after he was released.
What do the poisoned letters say?
One of the ricin-tainted letters sent to Bloomberg has been pictured. It reads:
“You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns.
“Anyone wants to come to my house will be shot in the face.
“The right to bear arms is my constitutional God-given right and I will exercise that right ’til the day I die.
“What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you.”
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the Boston Marathon suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planned to detonate the rest of their explosives in Times Square.
Michael Bloomberg said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect, had told the FBI he and his brother Tamerlan “spontaneously” decided that New York would be next.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters the suspects had a pressure cooker bomb and five pipe bombs.
Three people died and over 260 were wounded in the April 15 Boston Marathon attack.
“Last night we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets,” Michael Bloomberg said during Thursday’s news conference at city hall.
“He and his older brother intended to drive to New York and detonate those explosives in Times Square.”
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the Boston Marathon suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planned to detonate the rest of their explosives in Times Square
Raymond Kelly said the brothers had planned to head to New York after hijacking a car and its driver in Boston last Thursday night.
“That plan, however, fell apart when they realized that the vehicle they hijacked was low on gas and ordered the driver to stop at a nearby gas station,” Raymond Kelly said, adding that the driver escaped and alerted police.
Police intercepted the brothers in the stolen car, prompting a gun battle that left 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead.
Michael Bloomberg praised Massachusetts law enforcement for their work in stopping the suspects, saying “we know they had the capacity to carry out the attacks”.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is said to have travelled to New York at least once last autumn.
He is now in police custody in hospital and has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill people.
Before reportedly telling investigators he and his brother planned an attack on Times Square, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had said they were planning to go to New York “to party” after the bombings.
Following 16 hours of interrogation, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stopped responding to investigators’ questions after being read his legal rights to remain silent and have a lawyer, US media report.
Michael Bloomberg said there was no evidence New York was currently a target, but that the Tsarnaevs’ alleged plan proved the city remained a prime location for people who want to “bomb and kill Americans”.
On Thursday afternoon, police vehicles lined Times Square in a show of force, with officers standing shoulder to shoulder.
“Why are they standing like that? This is supposed to make me feel safer?” Elisabeth Bennecib, a tourist from France, told the Associated Press.
“It makes me feel more anxious, like something bad is about to happen.”
The suspects’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, has said he will travel imminently to the US. The family wants to take Tamerlan’s body back to Russia. But it is not clear if his former wife will join him.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva left the US and failed to make a court appearance after being arrested last June on suspicion of stealing $1,624 of women’s dresses from a Massachusetts department store.
Tens of thousands of people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy could soon need housing as cold weather closes in, New York’s political leaders have warned.
Homes without heat would become uninhabitable as temperatures fell, state Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg put the figure at 30,000-40,000 people.
At least 106 US deaths – 40 of them in New York City – have been blamed on Superstorm Sandy, which struck on 29 October.
Residents who had so far refused to leave their homes would have no other option, Andrew Cuomo told a news conference on Sunday.
He also said there would be increasing pressure on public transport on Monday, as more people returned to work and the schools re-opened.
Fuel shortages were easing, but Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers not to hoard petrol, saying more supplies were on their way.
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy could soon need housing as cold weather closes in
New York City opened warming shelters in areas without power and handed out blankets to residents who insisted on staying in homes without power.
But Michael Bloomberg urged those without heating to leave their homes if necessary.
“You can die from being cold. You can die from fires started when you use candles or stoves to heat your apartment,” he said.
“If you don’t know where to go, stop a cop on the street and say, please tell me where to go. They’ll help you. But we have to make sure that you are safe for a few days and that you have food and water for a few days.”
Temperatures fell to 39 F (4 C) on Sunday and are forecast to go as low as 30 F (-1C) on Monday.
About 730,000 people in New York state still do not have electricity, including more than 130,000 in New York City, the governor said.
Nearly a million people in the neighboring state of New Jersey remain without power, and petrol is being rationed.
Hundreds of runners who had been planning to take part in the New York marathon – cancelled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday – joined impromptu runs to raise funds or deliver aid.
The storm damage from Sandy is also affecting preparations for voting in Tuesday’s elections.
New Jersey residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy will be able to vote by email or fax, the state’s chief election official has decided.
They will be designated as “overseas voters” and can apply for mail-in ballots up until 17:00 on Election Day.
Michael Bloomberg said New York officials would do “anything we can” to help the board of elections, saying “they have real problems”.
Sunday’s New York City marathon has been canceled in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced.
Michael Bloomberg said in a statement: “We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it.”
Plans to press ahead with the race had prompted uproar from politicians in cyclone-ravaged parts of the city.
More than 90 US deaths, over 40 of them in New York, have been blamed on Sandy.
Across the US East Coast, some 3.5 million homes and businesses – 1.2 million in New York state alone – still have no electricity, four days after the storm made landfall.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in his statement: “While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division.”
He added: “We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.”
New York City Marathon 2012 has been canceled in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy
It was not immediately clear if the race would be rescheduled for another date.
Elected officials representing Staten Island were among the harshest critics of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s earlier statements that the race would go ahead.
“We’re still pulling bodies out of the water and the mayor is worried about marathon runners and returning to life as normal,” US Representative Michael Grimm, who represents the island and part of Brooklyn, told CNN.
“The Verrazano Bridge should be used for getting fuel and food in to Staten Island, not getting runners out. Police resources would be best allocated to prevent looting and in rescue and recovery operations.”
Rep Michael Grimm was joined by other local politicians, including both Republicans and Democrats, in demanding the race be postponed.
“The decision to move forward with the marathon is not a decision I would have made,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
Some runners who have signed up for the race told local website Gothamist that they would volunteer on Staten Island instead.
There was further controversy when background music played at the marathon expo in a Manhattan convention centre included the heavy metal song, Rock You Like a Hurricane.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who originally wanted the race to go on, said on Friday that he had changed his mind.
“New Yorkers deserve nothing less than to know that the entire government is focused solely on returning the city and their region back to normalcy,” Scott Stringer said in a statement.
Experts have warned that it could take the New York City subway system three full weeks to come back online.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Tuesday that the subway service would be shut down until Saturday or Sunday – a total closure of six to seven days.
But a group of Columbia University researchers analyzing the effects of a smaller hurricane or tropical storm suggest that it would shut down the subways for 21 days.
The predictions came in a report authored by Klaus Jacob, a geophysicist who specializes in disaster management, that examined the effects on the city’s transportation infrastructure of a 100-year storm.
And the model used a storm less powerful than a superstorm such as Sandy.
Limited bus service began again on Tuesday and was expected to expand throughout the week.
Experts have warned that it could take the New York City subway system three full weeks to come back online
Trains stopped running at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday as the MTA preemptively closed down service for only the second time in its history.
The closure was an effort to secure the subway system against the impending storm, but massive damage came anyway.
The tunnels beneath the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn flooded and dozens of stations across the city were inundated by the storm surge that rose water levels by 13 feet.
Dr. Klaus Jacob and his researchers used a lesser storm as a model for their report – one that has only a one percent chance of happening in any given year.
A statement from the MTA on Monday said Hurricane Sandy was the worst disaster in the subway’s 108-year history.
Dr. Klaus Jacob’s report estimated that a hurricane hitting nearby could result in 1billion gallons of water flooding each of the subway’s 14 tunnels that run under the East River.
Each tunnel was expected to take at least five days to pump dry.
The study’s 21-day estimate includes the time Dr. Klaus Jacob predicted it would take city workers to bring the subway system back to 90% function.
Broadway shows The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have closed in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had announced the city’s subway, buses and trains would be halted on Sunday night.
All Broadway performances on Sunday and Monday night were scrapped.
Several film events were cancelled too, including the New York premiere of Keira Knightley film Anna Karenina.
Keira Knightley was due to attend Tuesday night’s premiere in Union Square, along with director Joe Wright, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
New York screenings of several films, including Denzel Washington’s Flight, have also been cancelled.
Nearly all cinemas closed their doors by late Sunday afternoon, sending their staff home until at least Tuesday.
It is not known how long Broadway’s lights will stay out as the densely-populated city awaits the arrival of the storm, with productions of Evita, Mary Poppins and Chicago affected, along with several off-Broadway plays.
Broadway shows have closed in preparation for Hurricane Sandy
A statement on The Broadway League’s website said performances were cancelled, “as a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation for the incoming storm”.
Executive director Charlotte St Martin added that “the safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone’s primary concern.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also suspended all of New York’s outdoor shooting permits until further notice, affecting several TV shows such as Blue Bloods, Elementary, The Good Wife, Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries.
Meanwhile the music world has also been affected, with acts such as Mercury prize-winners The xx, Rita Ora and John Legend all cancelling US shows.
John Legend scrapped Sunday night’s scheduled performance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, while British band The xx have postponed the last leg of their US tour, including dates in the Bronx, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
As Hurricane Sandy approaches, schools, businesses and government departments have all closed, while hundreds of thousands are being advised to evacuate and seek higher ground.
The storm, which forecasters say could be the largest ever to hit the US mainland, is expected to topple trees, damage buildings and cause widespread power cuts and flooding when it moves inland.
Hurricane Sandy has already passed through the Caribbean, killing more than 60 people.
Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC and parts of North Carolina have all declared a state of emergency.
New York City is on lockdown in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, as it barrels towards America’s largest city, and its residents were quick to respond rushing to stock up the essentials.
Staples like bread, water, eggs, and produce have been flying off the shelves as the city’s 8 million residents prepare for the megastorm.
In addition, for only the second time in the subway’s hundred-year history, the entire metropolitan transit system, including buses, will be halted, starting at 7:00 p.m. tonight, adding a sense of urgency to New Yorker’s pre-storm preparations.
In a news conference shortly before noon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that those living in low-lying areas must evacuate, and said that all public schools will be closed tomorrow.
The mayor urged residents of New York to stay inside as much as possible starting at sundown tonight, warning of high winds up to 70 mph and torrential rain.
In addition to low-lying areas of Manhattan, Michael Bloomberg ordered that residents of the Rockaways, a low-lying area of Queens by Jamaica Bay, evacuate.
“If you don’t evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you,” he said today.
“This is a serious and dangerous storm.”
New York City is on lockdown in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy and its residents were quick to respond rushing to stock up the essentials
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed Michael Bloomberg’s warnings.
“A situation like this, you don’t want to be overly panicked and overly prepared, but you want to be prudent, you want to do what’s necessary,” he said.
Andrew Cuomo also said the National Guard would be deployed, 200 troops in New York City, and 400 on Long Island.
In addition, nearly 4,000 flights were canceled for Monday, with 857 cancellations at Newark in New Jersey, followed by 632 at New York’s Kennedy Airport and more than 500 cancellations at both New York’s LaGuardia and Philadelphia International.
FlightAware said it expects the number of flight cancellations for Monday and Tuesday to “rise considerably”.
A spokesman for United Airlines parent United Continental Holdings Inc. told the Associated Press that the carrier has suspended an unspecified number of flights to New York and Washington-area airports beginning Sunday evening with plans to resume Tuesday as conditions permit.
JetBlue Airways, which flies out of JFK, said it has canceled more than 1,000 flights from Sunday through Wednesday morning.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to ban any soft drink over 16 ounces across the city by March 2013.
Michael Bloomberg believes that banning the bubbles will combat obesity, diabetes, and other health problems plaguing the people of NYC.
“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, <<Oh, this is terrible>>,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said to the New York Times.
“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something.”
According to the New York City Health Department, more than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight (34%) or obese (22%).
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to ban any soft drink over 16 ounces across the city by March 2013
Michael Bloomberg, who was the driving force behind the city’s calorie counting and anti-smoking campaigns, hopes to implement the ban soon.
His close attention to health issues has earned him the nickname “Nanny Bloomberg”.
The decision will affect everything from 7-Eleven Big Gulps to Starbucks Ventis, leaving a bad taste in some resident’s mouths.
“If people want to drink 24 ounces, it’s their decision,” said Zara Atal, 20, a college student from the Upper East Side to the New York Times.
The ban would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks or alcoholic beverages.
It also would not affect beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.
Still, the NYC Beverage Association balked at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s idea.
“The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda, because soda is not driving the obesity rates. The overall American diet is,” they said in a statement to CBS.
Michael Bloomberg admitted he occasionally sips a diet soda on a hot day, but argues that there won’t be any laws restricting the amount of small sodas one can purchase.
“Your argument, I guess, could be that it’s a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce,” he said.
“I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”
Before the proposal can curb New Yorkers’ thirst, the Board of Health must approve it. Experts believe approval is all but confirmed, considering that all the members were appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.