Chesterfield magistrate, deputy out of hospital after being exposed to ‘powdery substance’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County’s magistrate and a sheriff’s deputy are recovering after police say they were exposed to a “powdery substance” found inside of a letter that was sent to the magistrate’s office.

Exactly what the magistrate and deputy were exposed to remains a mystery. Investigators are continuing to analyze the letter, which contained an unknown “powdery substance,” according to the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office.

The Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office said the magistrate opened the letter in their office and had an immediate reaction after being exposed to the substance. Deputies who were near the office at the time responded to help out, but one began to experience the same symptoms as the magistrate.

“The symptoms they were experiencing were irritation to the eyes, having a hard time seeing, a tingling to the fingers, and then the magistrate had some issues with consciousness,” said Lieutenant Matthew Franz of the Chesterfield Sheriff’s Office.

The magistrate and deputy were both taken to Chippenham Hospital and have since been released. Franz also said others in the vicinity were checked out and quarantined.

“No one had any symptoms in that group, everyone was able to return back to work,” he said.

Chesterfield County Fire and EMS deployed its HAZMAT team to collect the powdery substance and decontaminate the affected areas.

The Chesterfield County Jail is back in full operation, but the magistrate’s office remains on limited operations — meaning all bonding processes will have to be done by video.

“For any kind of criminal matters, it’s going to be for the police department that would have new arrestees. They are going to be diverted to Riverside Regional Jail for now,” Franz said.

The substance has been sent to the Virginia Department of Forensic Science for analysis. Detectives with the Sheriff’s office and the fire marshal are also working on the investigation.

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