Ricin Found in Las Vegas Motel, Man in Critical Condition
A substance found at a motel may be the deadly toxin ricin, but authorities said Friday they don't believe it was intended for a terrorist attack. Lab tests on the substance were pending and seven people were taken to hospitals as a precaution.
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UPDATED | 11:40AM PST
Police say a man is in critical condition after the deadly toxin ricin was found in his Las Vegas motel room.
Las Vegas police Lt. Lewis Roberts says the man has been in a coma since he was found in his room at the Extended Stay America Motel on Thursday.
He's one of seven people hospitalized after the ricin was discovered. Police have said most were examined as a precaution.
Roberts says police don't think foul play is involved, and the FBI says the case doesn't appear to be terrorism-related.
But authorities aren't sure why the man had a vial of powdered ricin in his room.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Preliminary tests indicate that a package found at a motel contained the toxin ricin, and seven people have been taken to hospitals, authorities said.
Investigators did not believe the substance was intended for an attack.
"This event does not appear to be terrorism related," FBI spokesman Richard Kolko in Washington said Friday morning. Kolko said the FBI was assisting local police in the investigation.
Police were called to the Extended Stay America Motel on Thursday and retrieved a package from the motel manager that was determined to be a chemical or controlled substance, Officer Ramone Denby said.
The man who brought the substance to the manager told police he found it in a suite and it did not belong to him, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Two preliminary tests indicate it contained ricin, Denby said. Results from further tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a second local lab are expected Friday, he said.
"Ricin has no medical uses other than cancer research," police Captain Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference Thursday night. "An individual citizen other than being involved in cancer research or cancer prevention would not have any legal means or proper means of having that."
Police cordoned off the area and isolated the room where the substance was found.
Three motel employees and another person were quarantined and decontaminated at the site, then taken to hospitals for further testing, Denby said. All appeared to be in good condition, he said. Three police officers who had been exposed were also taken to hospitals.
It takes between six and eight hours for someone exposed to ricin to show signs of contamination, Denby said.
Homeland Security officials joined local police in the investigation. Officials from the FBI, Las Vegas Health District, a hazardous materials team and the National Guard were also at the scene.
A woman who answered the phone at the motel declined comment.
Ricin is made from the waste left over from processing castor beans, and can be extremely lethal. As little as 500 micrograms, or about the size of the head of a pin, can kill a human, according to the CDC.