The White House was briefly forced to evacuate Sunday evening, after a white powder-like substance – later identified as cocaine – was discovered in a “work area” inside the West Wing, prompting an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.
“On Sunday evening, the White House complex went into a precautionary closure as officers from the Secret Service Uniformed Division investigated an unknown item found inside a work area,” the Secret Service said.
According to The Washington Post, Anthony Guglielmi, a Secret Service spokesman, explained that the substance is continuing to undergo testing to confirm its identity; however, a preliminary test indicated that the substance was cocaine.
Guglielmi noted that there is “an investigation into the cause and manner” regarding how the substance was brought into the White House.
According to Guglielmi, the questionable substance was detected by members of the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service during a routine check of the White House.
Fox News reported that a hazmat team was dispatched to the area surrounding Pennsylvania Avenue and 18th Street after the substance was discovered. Secret Service units also blocked off the roads near the White House.
After a brief evacuation and security alert Sunday evening, the D.C. Fire Department determined that the substance located in a “work area of the West Wing” was not a threat. Guglielmi added that President Joe Biden was not at the White House during the security incident.
The D.C. Fire Department’s only comment on the incident came from spokesman Vito Maggiolo, who noted that the fire department “provided support to the U.S. Secret Service as they conducted an investigation.”
The Secret Service has informed the public that additional details surrounding the incident are under investigation.
“The DC Fire Department was called to evaluate and quickly determined the item to be non-hazardous. The item was sent for further evaluation and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending,” a statement by the Secret Service concluded.