A corner in Cabbagetown was cordoned off with police tape the afternoon of July 5 as emergency crews investigated a suspicious package found in Toronto-Centre MPP Glen Murray’s office.
Xtra was first on the scene at about 2:30pm, just as emergency crews sealed off Parliament from Winchester to Carlton streets. Police told the growing crowd of spectators that a suspicious package containing “white powder” was found at 514 Parliament St, the office of Murray and MP Bob Rae. “I was reading your tweets and came right over,” Murray told Xtra when he arrived at about 3:30pm.
Wearing silver biohazard suits, the Toronto Fire Services hazardous materials team entered Murray’s office at about 4pm and emerged about 45 minutes later. After the package was removed, Toronto police Sgt Chris May told Xtra the contents were “innocuous” but would not be more specific. No one was harmed, he said.
“We’ve run some presumptive testing on the material, and nothing has come back with any concern to us, so we are now turning the scene back over to the owners of the building,” he said.
May told Xtra police have “a person of interest” and will be investigating further. He would not speculate on why the package was sent or what exactly it contained. A 50-year-old woman was later taken into custody. It is not known if charges will be laid.
Murray was emotional and concerned for his staff as the hazardous materials team prepared to enter his office. Seven staffers were evacuated earlier and checked over by EMS when they began coughing and sneezing. They were all given the okay later.
“They are pretty resilient folks who have worked under a lot of difficult situations,” Murray told reporters. “You get very close to your staff. You never want bad things to happen to them. In public life your staff is like your family. You go through all kinds of things together, work 18-hour days.”
Police reopened the intersection soon after 5pm.
UPDATE – 6 JULY, 2011 – See how the story unfolded on Twitter below.