The FBI said late Wednesday that it had arrested a Mississippi man accused of sending letters tested positive for the poison ricin to President Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi justice official.
The arrest capped a day in which official Washington was on edge after several senators reported questionable mail delivered to their offices at the Capitol and in their respective states.
FBI special agents arrested Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, at his residence in Corinth, about 100 miles east of Memphis, Tenn., at 5:15 p.m. local time. The agency didn’t report a struggle during the apprehension.
The FBI reported the letters addressed to the president, Sen. Roger F. Wicker, Mississippi Republican, and the justice official, whom they didn’t identify, were postmarked April 8 in Memphis before Monday’s bombings in Boston.
The letters to the president and Mr. Wicker were intercepted at off-site facilities before final delivery.
Both said: “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.” They were signed, “I am KC and I approve this message.” It’s uncertain whether the justice official received a similarly worded letter.
The FBI said Wednesday that there was no indication of a connection between the letters and the Boston bombings.
The U.S. Capitol Police, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service helped in the investigation, which also was aided by state and local agencies.
The FBI said Wednesday that more testing was underway as preliminary field tests often show false positives for ricin.
But the mailings amped already high tensions after the deadly bombings in Boston, and the response to every report of suspicious packages or letters quickly became more intense.
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jay Carney said it is premature to speculate that America is under attack.
“Before we speculate or make connections that we don’t know exist, that the FBI has made a clear statement about, we need to get the facts,” Mr. Carney said. “First things first. The president bases his judgments and the things he says to the American people on the facts.”
Pressed as to whether Mr. Obama believes the incidents this week mirror terrorist attacks of 2001, Mr. Carney cautioned against drawing conclusions.
“The president has faith in the FBI, and faith in the entire national security and homeland security team,” Mr. Carney said. “He is confident that we’ll find who’s responsible. The top and highest priority of this president is the safety and security of the American people.”
U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday removed a suspicious package found in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building and mail from the third floors of the Hart and Russell Senate Office Buildings.