Deadly ricin found at Las Vegas motel - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Deadly ricin found at Las Vegas motel

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LAS VEGAS - One man remained in a coma and in critical condition on Friday after the deadly toxin ricin was found in his Las Vegas motel room, police said.

Six others were hospitalized after the ricin was discovered Thursday at the Extended Stay America Motel. Police have said most victims were examined as a precaution.

Las Vegas police Lt. Lewis Roberts said the man has been in a coma since he was found in his room.

Police were called on Thursday to the motel, where officers retrieved a package from the motel manager. The package was determined to be a chemical or controlled substance, Officer Ramone Denby said.

Two preliminary tests indicated the contents contained ricin, Denby said. Results from further tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a second local lab were expected Friday, he said

"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.

But authorities do not know why the man had a vial of the powder in his room.

Ricin, made from processing castor beans, can be lethal.  

"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."

Homeland security involved in probe
Police cordoned off the area and isolated the room where the substance was found.

Three motel employees and another person had been 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. As little as 500 micrograms, or about the size of the head of a pin, can kill a human, according to the CDC.



(MSNBC.com)
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