The results are in...a gel like substance found at University Medical Center this morning is not anthrax. But the investigation is far from over. NewsChannel 11 first broke this story online today, and Jennifer Vogel has been following it ever since, she tells us what was in the vial.
Around 11:15am, a nurse at UMC found a medium size vial, about the size of a tube of blood. The tube had a gel-like substance in it, that tests now confirm was merely soap.
Sources that are close to the investigation tell us the health department determined the substance was soap around 6:30 this evening, just seven hours after the vial was found. A nurse at UMC found the vial, sealed, with a hand-written label that said "anthrax."
UMC officials tell us the hospital would not have anthrax in the building for any reason. And they are working with the FBI to find the person responsible. Greg Bruce, the Vice President of UMC says, "we've had anthrax scares before in Lubbock and it's something you never want to see and never want to hope in your community, but it's something we all have to be careful of and aware of."
The FBI will be handling every part of this investigation, and they do plan on finding the person involved and pressing federal charges. Anthrax has been implicated as a possible biological weapon in recent years, and especially with our nation on high alert, the hospital and local and federal law enforcement say they take every threat very seriously.
If someone is caught for the hoax, they could face major penalties. Although we do not know what the specific penalties for this case will be, we did do some checking on past cases. It is a federal offense. Back in 2001, when the FBI responded to thousands of mail-anthrax hoaxes, most suspects faced a maximum of five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
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