Police respond to suspicious substance found in building downtown

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Police responded to a call Friday morning after a report of a suspicious white, powdery substance found in a Travis County office building downtown.

An initial investigation determined the substance to be benign, according to Austin Fire Department spokesman Palmer Buck. The substance will additionally be tested in a lab.

Seven people were exposed to the unknown white powder substance, according to Buck. Those people were being monitored by the Travis County EMS, but had not exhibited any symptoms.

The Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s office, FBI and Fire department responded to the call that came in at 10:30 Friday morning at the building located at Lavaca and 7th Street downtown. Buck said once the fire at the DoubleTree Hotel was under control, some firefighters were immediately sent to respond to the substance call.

Karina Roque, international relations and global studies junior, showed up to her internship to find the building sealed by the police. Roque said she was surprised to find the building surrounded by law enforcement.

“You run the risk, but I didn’t expect [a bomb threat] to happen,” Roque said. “You don’t come expecting there to be a bomb threat.”

Buck said the police and fire departments take bomb and substance threats seriously in an effort to protect the public.

“We take these types of calls seriously,” Buck said. “We want to make sure the people inside the building are okay and we want to make sure we do our due diligence in the investigation to make sure that we can reassure the people in the building that everything is going to be okay.”

The primary tenant in the building was the Travis County Auditor’s Office. It was unclear what floor of the building the substance was found.