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8 Dec, 2023 05:49

School shooter mailed ‘white powder’ to academics

The gunman killed three people at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday
School shooter mailed ‘white powder’ to academics

The suspect behind a deadly shooting spree at a college in Nevada this week mailed a mysterious “white powder substance” to at least one person before the rampage, according to local police. The shooter sent out a total of 22 letters, though their contents have yet to be identified.

Speaking during a press briefing on Thursday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Kevin McMahill said the letters were dropped off at a nearby post office just ahead of Wednesday’s shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). So far, one envelope has been found to contain a potentially hazardous substance.

“I learned that in the screening of those envelopes that we were able to intercept – after going through 14,000 pieces of mail and identifying the 22 that were sent – the first letter that we opened had an unknown white powder substance in it,” McMahill said.

No return address was provided on the letters, and it is unclear how many contained the white powder.

The sheriff previously identified the gunman as Anthony Polito, 67, a former assistant professor at a university in North Carolina who had applied to work at UNLV and other schools around Nevada. He “was denied each time,” McMahill said, adding that while the motive behind the shooting remains unclear, the suspect was “struggling financially” and facing eviction from his apartment.

Three people were killed and another seriously injured in Wednesday’s shooting, with three of the victims identified as faculty members at UNLV. Polito was shot and killed during an altercation with police, who found a 9-millimeter handgun and nine loaded magazines on his person. The shooting lasted around ten minutes before the gunman was “neutralized,” McMahill added.

Polito also allegedly brought a list of targets to the school campus, which included several professors at UNLV and East Carolina University, however none of the people named were harmed during the shooting spree.

During a search of the suspect’s home, police later found a number of suspicious documents, including what appeared to be a “last will and testament” which suggested Polito did not intend to survive the shooting, the sheriff said. Officials believe the shooter “acted alone,” and have “zero indication of any other suspects at this time.”

The Las Vegas police said officers were still processing the 22 letters, and that the intended recipients had each been contacted, adding that “particular attention” has been given to faculty at UNLV and Polito’s former place of work in North Carolina.