Suspicious Powder at Capitol Is Harmless Candy Necklace

Feb 24, 2012 11:40am

The rotunda at the U.S. Capitol has reopened to pedestrian traffic after a white powdery substance discovered just steps away from the office of the Speaker of the House this morning was determined to be harmless. 

How harmless? The substance that prompted Capitol Police to close down the rotunda for about an hour was in fact just candy from a candy necklace.

“Rotunda clear,” Kimberly Schneider, U.S. Capitol Police public information officer, confirmed in an email this morning. ”Candy from a candy necklace.”

Tensions in the Capitol had escalated when officers in hazmat suits responded to the scene to test the powder. As officers investigated, tourists and congressional staffers in the Capitol were prevented from passing through the rotunda.

“A white powdery substance in the Rotunda that we are investigating. No pedestrian traffic in the rotunda until we clear this,” Schneider emailed while the investigation unfolded. 

ABC News was among the first to arrive on the scene and capture video of officers in hazmat suits walking around the rotunda. 

Schneider later emailed to confirm the substance is harmless. She did not immediately explain how the substance was discovered, or whether foul play was suspected.

House Speaker John Boehner and most other members of Congress are not at the Capitol today, as the House of Representatives conducted a brief pro forma session this morning. Lawmakers return Monday for legislative business. 

Last week, the FBI arrested a man who allegedly planned to launch a suicide attack on the Capitol. Amine El Khalifi, charged last Friday in an FBI sting in a plot to bomb the Capitol, was arrested just two blocks from the Capitol complex, wearing what he believed was a suicide vest, although the FBI says it provided the inert device as the bureau built a case on the 29 year old Moroccan man.

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