Ag Department’s Raleigh office to reopen after threats made across US

Raleigh location of the U.S. Agriculture Department is closed for the foreseeable future due to a threat.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department said Tuesday it had closed six offices in five states, including the Raleigh, North Carolina office, after receiving anonymous threats that it considered serious.

In addition, two faculty members at N.C. State have received emails that include a general threat to the college campus. Police at N.C. State say that several dozen people at Virginia Tech received the exact same email threat on Monday.

In a safety notice sent by email, the N.C. State University Police said they “take all threats seriously and are working with local, state and federal officials to investigate the credibility of the email threat.”

On Tuesday night, officials said that many buildings would reopen on Wednesday — including the Raleigh building.  But, they would have “additional security enhancements, including the presence of law enforcement or security personnel on site,” officials said.

USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick said in a statement that the department had received “several anonymous messages” late Monday that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities. He said six offices were closed Tuesday morning until further notice.

The Raleigh office, located at 4407 Bland Road, employs about 50 people, according to the USDA website.

Herrick said the department is working with the FBI and federal and local law enforcement to determine whether the threats are credible.

“On the nature of the message, this was one e-mail message sent to multiple employees at the locations previously identified,” Herrick said.

USDA memo on the door of the Raleigh office of the Agriculture Department.
USDA memo on the door of the Raleigh office of the Agriculture Department.

In an email to employees, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA is closing the offices “due to the serious nature of these threats.” He did not characterize the threats or say how they were received, but asked employees to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity.

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said the Department of Homeland Security is working with USDA “to ensure the safety of their offices and the personnel that work there.”

The closed facilities are in Fort Collins, Colorado; Hamden, Connecticut; Beltsville, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; Kearneysville, West Virginia and Leetown, West Virginia.

They include offices for eight USDA agencies, including the Forest Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Among the sites affected was USDA’s sprawling agricultural research center and library in Beltsville, where employees were informed of the threat Tuesday morning and sent home.

In his memo to employees, Vilsack said employees could telework or take authorized leave.

The temporary closures may affect some tourists. In Colorado, the Forest Service’s Canyon Lakes Ranger District tweeted that their information center is closed.

WNCN CBS North Carolina contributed to this article.

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