Suspicious package found, business evacuates

Police say there was no threat; substance found to be non-hazardous

URBANDALE - A suspicious package is found at an Urbandale business - and all the employees are told to evacuate.

It happened at the March Mercer insurance agency building in Urbandale Thursday morning. Police were called to the scene just after 9:00 a.m. Police say there is no threat, but also say the employees did the right thing to call law enforcement.

After a few hours at the Urbandale business, police and hazmat crews determined the employees who were in the building were not in danger. Still, they say in situations like these, it is always important to be extra cautious.

People who work at Marsh Mercer in Urbandale saw a chaotic scene Thursday morning -- all because a suspicious package was sent to their building. An employee called police after noticing a mysterious brown powder was inside a standard-size manila envelope. Police asked employees to get out.

"They actually announced over the loudspeaker to evacuate the whole building," said Brandon Mims, who is an employee at Marsh Mercer. "It was definitely kind of like a shock, you know, just to kind of not know exactly what was going on and then sitting out here in the cold, running our cars, just kind of figuring out what's going on exactly."

After calling the Des Moines hazmat crew in to help, Urbandale Police determined the unknown substance was not a threat.

"They'll put it through some more testing to make a final determination about what it is, that'll come down the road," said Sgt. Chad Underwood with the Urbandale Police Department. "But right now, we can say with certainty that it's not hazardous and that nobody was in danger."

The envelope has a return address, so police contacted the sender. Authorities do not believe there was any malicious intent in this case. Although Thursday's incident turned out to be non-threatening, police say if you find yourself in a similar situation, it is important for you to act fast.

"I would just recommend they contact their local police department and let us come and evaluate it," Sgt. Underwood said. "It is a process, we do it to keep everybody as safe as possible."

Although they braved the cold Thursday, employees agree that they would rather be safe than sorry.

"With everything that's going on in the news and everything, you kind of just want to make sure that you're doing everything cautiously because you don't know what people could do," Mims said.

Police say around 15 to 20 employees got in contact with the substance, but they were not affected by it. They were all asked to simply wash their hands as a precaution.

Marsh Mercer's owning company, Marsh & McLennan Companies, released a statement to Local 5 saying in part, "All of our Urbandale employees have been cleared to return to our facility and resume operations."


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