Agriculture Department closes offices in five states after anonymous threats

Officials describe move as preliminary, investigating threats' credibility

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By Mark Berman, Washington Post

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that it had closed offices in five states after receiving multiple anonymous threats, describing the move as precautionary while working to see if the threats were credible.

Officials decided to close six offices after getting “several anonymous messages that are concerning for the safety of USDA personnel and its facilities,” Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the department, said in a statement.

Herrick said that the department was working closely with the FBI as well as local law enforcement to determine whether the threats, which were received Monday, were legitimate. As a result, he said the Agriculture Department was indefinitely closing offices in Fort Collins, Colorado; Hamden, Connecticut; Beltsville, Maryland; Raleigh, North Carolina; Kearneysville, West Virginia; and Leetown, West Virginia.

“Personnel at these locations have been made aware of the threats and will not report to these offices until further notice,” Herrick said.

The Agriculture Department has nearly 100,000 employees spread out across thousands of locations. The closures announced Tuesday are impacting an array of agencies and offices, including the Forest Service, Food Safety Inspection Service and the department’s inspector general.

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