LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Part of  City Hall was evacuated Thursday after one of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s staff members opened a letter that contained an unknown substance.

Police and firefighters responded around 3:30 p.m. to the mayor’s office on the third floor of City Hall.

Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders said a letter was delivered to the office and the correspondence contained a white powder.

An investigation by authorities — including the fire and police departments as well as the FBI — deemed the powder to be harmless chalk.

The employee who opened the letter apparently went to a nearby restroom, which was cordoned off by investigators. Fire crews kept the man inside the restroom while the investigation continued.

The letter addressed to the Mayor originated from a correctional facility in Maryland and contained unspecified threats.

Through Sanders, Mayor Villaraigosa released a statement Thursday evening commending first responders. “[I’m] grateful for the quick work of the law enforcement and fire department officials who handed the situation and [I am] relieved that nobody was injured as a result of this ill conceived action.”

The LAPD is continuing an investigation into the incident.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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