Police say the envelopes containing the white powder were ordinary. That's until one Hayward police employee opened one and triggered emergency procedures in the four cities.
The discovery of the envelopes containing white powder began at the Hayward Police Department at about 9:45 a.m. Alameda County Fire Department hazmat teams were called out and there was a partial evacuation of the building as investigators checked the contents. A clerk opening mail discovered an envelope contained white powder and called the alert. It turned out to be flour.
Meanwhile, Union City Police Cmdr. Kelly Musgrove found a similar envelope after getting a head's up from the Alameda County fire chief.
"I was able to find the letter, move it to the side, called the fire department and at that point we just had the fire department look at it," Musgrove said.
The FBI now has the letter. Union City's City Hall is dark every other Friday due to budget cuts, so the mail was still sitting in a box, where Musgrove could remove it.
A half hour earlier, a San Leandro Police Department employee also opened an envelope containing white powder. After a hazmat response and a partial evacuation, the powder was also determined to be flour.
At 2:17 p.m., the Berkeley Police Department was also partially evacuated after a clerk opened an envelope and white powder spilled out.
"We evacuated the area and lower floor of the public safety building; we had other parts of the building shelter in place, we turned off all heating vents and air conditioning units to the building," Berkeley Fire Deputy Chief Gil Dong said.
Dong says the powder was vegetable based. None of the envelopes contained any other information.
An alert has been sent out to all Bay Area police departments with a photo of the envelope. There was a postmark on all the envelopes but police are not sharing that information. The FBI and postal inspectors now have the case.