USDA Closes 2 W.Va. Offices, 4 Others after Threats
Updated at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 30:
Six U. S. Department of Agriculture offices were closed Tuesday after receiving anonymous threats. Two of those six facilities are located in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department first got the news about the threats Monday afternoon. Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty says the threats were made through email, but did not release any more information about those threats. Dougherty did say it was clear that the person who sent the email intended to do bodily harm to personnel at the six USDA facilities.
One of the six is a fruit research center in Kearneysville, West Virginia, just outside of Shepherdstown. It’s down the street from both the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and a state police detachment.
“It’s probably as safe a facility from a law enforcement standpoint as any – if anything started, it would take us about 15 seconds to be there,” Dougherty said.
Employees at a USDA building in Leetown, just down the road, were also threatened Monday.
Both West Virginia facilities are part of the Agriculture Research Service. The FBI is investigating the credibility of the threats, and the buildings remain closed until further notice.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has closed six offices nationwide, including two in West Virginia, after receiving anonymous threats Monday.
USDA Director of Communications Matt Herrick said in a statement the offices in five states will be closed until further notice after concerns for the safety of agency personnel.
Those offices are located in Kearneysville and Leetown, West Virginia; Fort Collins, Colorado; Hamden, Connecticut; Beltsville, Maryland; and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Herrick said the USDA is working closely with the Federal Bureau for Investigations and other federal and local law enforcement to determine whether the threats are credible.
The closures affect the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), Forest Service (FS), National Agricultural Library (NAL), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Office of the Inspector General, and USDA Departmental Management.