TODAY   |  May 30, 2013

Ricin letters sent to Bloomberg refer to gun control

The FBI is searching for a suspect who allegedly sent letters poisoned with ricin to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and one of his allies who works as a gun-control lobbyist. The letters refer to anti-gun efforts, Bloomberg said. NBC’s Jonathan Dienst reports.

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>> and we start with a big story here in new york city being talked about across the country. those poisonous letters being sent to new york 's mayor. we have fresh information this morning from jonathan deanst.

>> the letter to the mayor was stopped ahead of time. but the letter to the lobbyist did reach him and he opened it, but he has not fallen ill.

>> i don't know, the letter obviously referred to our anti-gun efforts.

>> reporter: michael bloomberg confirmed one ricin letter was sent to him but intercepted by an alert mail room worker. where mail is initially screened. but in washington, gun control activist mark glaze got his letter at his private office. officials say both ricin letters threaten the mayor warning no one is going to take away gun rights . the d.c. police report says the letter had a whitish orange substance on the note and was opened as glaze walked outside. glaze helps run mayors against illegal guns , an organization that bloomberg supports. the group runs ads like these across the country.

>> what's right comes with responsibility. that's why i support comprehensive background checks.

>> mayor bloomberg says he will carry on his campaign.

>> we have to make sure we get it under control and eliminate.

>> tests were positive in both cases and official lab results for the new york letter are also positive. ricin is a poison made from kaster beans and can be deadly when it's ground up and inhaled. the letters were mailed from shreveport , louisiana, on may 20th . as a precaution, screeners at the white house and capitol hill have been warned to look out for possible additional letters. this case comes weeks after an arrest was made in a previous ricin mail threat case where letters were sent to president obama and some members of congress but were stopped in advance at offsite screening facilities.

>> in this case, it's unclear how potent the letters were, although, police officers who initially responded reported minor illnesses over the weekend.

>> you say shreveport , louisiana, have investigators come up with any leads on suspects and anything more on what was written in the letters?

>> well, what's written in the letters were threats to the mayor and lots of writings about gun control and the right to bear arms. that's the sort of language. as to who did this, the fbi is hard at work trying to track a suspect. there was no return address. obviously they're going to look for fingerprints, dna, any sort of evidence out of shreveport . we're told the fbi office has the lead along with the fbi here in new york .

>> having changed procedures in terms of handling mail coming into government offices in new york and elsewhere?

>> well, here in the city, it was stopped. found at the offsite facility. and it was a mail room worker who found the envelope, noticed something wrong with it and stuck it in the boxes with gloves and first indicated it and called police. that's how it got uncovered.

>> jonathan, thank you very much.

>> thank you.