Update: Suspicious package at NH Dems office causes evacuation

  • A suspicious package delivered to the N.H. Democratic Party offices in Concord on Monday evening caused the building to be evacuated. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

Published: 12/10/2018 8:25:02 PM

The New Hampshire Democratic Party office was evacuated Monday evening after employees were exposed to a substance in a suspicious package, police say. 

Lt. Sean Ford said the package was delivered to the office sometime during the afternoon. At least three employees were in the building at the time, he said.

At least one was assessed by Concord emergency responders for possible exposure, but Ford said no illnesses had been reported Monday night. It’s unclear what may have been in the package.

“This afternoon, we alerted authorities immediately upon finding a suspicious package at the NHDP Headquarters,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement. “Several staff members were evacuated and one was treated merely as a precaution.”

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Party, Sarah Guggenheimer, said the package was first discovered around 5 p.m. After a staff member deemed it suspicious, the authorities were immediately called, Guggenheimer said. 

A handful of staff members – including Buckley – were working at the time, Guggenheimer said. The staff person who interacted with the package had only minimal contact with it, she added. He was examined in an ambulance but cleared of any effects from exposure, she said. Several other staffers waited near the building to monitor the scene as authorities investigated, Guggenheimer added.

Guggenheimer declined to detail the nature of the package, how it was delivered, or what prompted suspicion, citing a desire to protect sensitive details while authorities investigate. 

It was not immediately clear Monday evening how the incident would affect operations at the headquarters, a three-story townhouse on N. State Street. The party relocated a planned Monday evening meeting to an off-site location shortly after the package was discovered, Guggenheimer said. But staffers were still waiting for updates from authorities on the nature and severity of the threat.

Guggenheimer added she did not immediately know if employees would be returning Tuesday morning, adding that party officials were awaiting instructions from law enforcement. 

The incident prompted statements of support from top officials in the New Hampshire Republican Party. “We immediately and unequivocally condemn this outrageous act and stand with our friends at the @NHDems,” the party said in a post on Twitter. “We are thankful for law enforcement’s quick and appropriate response, and whoever sent this suspicious package should be brought to justice.”

Monday night, the building on N. State Street was on lockdown and the street was shut down from the Washington Street intersection to around the Court Street area. Traffic was diverted around the area.

Concord police and fire responded to the scene, as did state police and a state hazmat team, Ford said. He said police are currently working with federal law enforcement on the investigation.

In his statement, Buckley thanked the efforts of law enforcement.

“We are cooperating fully with the authorities and are grateful for all they are doing to ensure our safety,” he said. 

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