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No toxicity in white powder found at U.S. House Speaker Johnson’s local church

BENTON, La. (BP) – An envelope with a suspicious white powder on it found at the Louisiana church membership of U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson revealed no toxicity in field tests, the FBI said Feb. 19.

Cypress Baptist Church in Benton received the letter containing the substance, sparking an investigation by the FBI, and other federal, state and local authorities. Officials evacuated the church and a Louisiana Hazmat unit investigated. No injuries were reported.

As Feb. 19 was a federal holiday, it’s not clear how or when the letter was actually delivered to the church. Neither did authorities reveal whether the letter was addressed to a specific individual.

“Even sending a hoax letter is a serious crime,” the FBI said. “Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or local authorities. You can also submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.”

Additional tests on the substance would be conducted in local laboratories in the ongoing investigation, the FBI said, but offered no updates on findings today, Feb. 21. Church offices were open as early as today.

Johnson’s wife Kelly has an office at Cypress as a Christian counselor but was not in the office at the time, the Baptist Message reported.

Johnson thanked all authorities for their help in the emergency.

“Speaker Johnson and the Johnson family thank U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI, the Louisiana State Police and the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office for taking swift action and handling the situation professionally,” Johnson’s spokesman Griffin Neal said shortly after the event. “As the investigation is ongoing, we will refer all further questions to law enforcement handling this matter.”

Johnson, who served 2004-2012 as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has included his faith in his public service.

“I believe each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great country, and they deserve it,” Johnson said in a speech on the House floor following his election as speaker in October 2023. “And to ensure that our republic remains standing as the great beacon of light and hope and freedom in a world that desperately needs it.”