Suspicious substance, threatening letter prompts Viera courthouse evacuation

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A suspicious substance that was mailed with a letter demanding the release of an inmate forced the evacuation of the Viera courthouse in Brevard County on Wednesday.

Officials said dozens were forced to evacuate the building once the substance was found.

"When the employee opened the envelope and there was something suspicious, we notified the sheriff's office," said Deputy Clerk  Rachel Sadoff.

Brevard County deputies and crews from Brevard County Fire-Rescue swarmed the area. Hazmat crews were called and had to decontaminate a few people as a precaution.

The Sheriff's Office told Channel 9 the letter demanded the release of an inmate at the Brevard County Jail. Officials, however, will not say what the threat was or which inmate was mentioned in the letter.

"It's still under investigation, and we're trying to figure out where it came from," said Sadoff.

Initial tests inside the courthouse show the substance is harmless, but investigators will be sending it to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab to figure out exactly what it was and who may have sent it.