Saskatoon police say there is no evidence to connect a string of white powder scares and an explosion at the city's provincial courthouse on Wednesday night.
Hazmat crews were called to a law office on 21st Street E. just before 10 a.m. CST on Thursday for a report of an envelope containing a suspicious white powder.
The fire department has confirmed the material was not hazardous. It was the fourth such call this week and the sixth this month.
The courthouse explosion happened just after 11 p.m. CST the night before.
At a press conference about the explosion on Thursday morning, police spokesperson Alyson Edwards stressed that the scares and the blast were separate investigations.
"The suspicious packages and the incident that occurred with the explosive device outside 19th Street and Third Avenue are completely separate," she said.
"We do not have any evidence linking the two."
Emerson lawyer latest target of powder deliveries
The latest white powder call this morning involved an envelope sent to Brian Pfefferle — the lawyer for Alexa Emerson.
Emerson is charged with mischief and uttering threats in connection to five suspicious package deliveries that happened on Nov. 29. She is scheduled to stand trial in May.
Police say they are investigating a possible link between the Nov. 29 incident and the six white powder scares in March.
Pfefferle confirmed that the envelope came addressed to him, and that he opened it and then called emergency services.
He was quarantined Thursday morning.
'It's affecting people and their businesses'
Although there is no known connection between the explosion and the powder deliveries, the timing of the incidents and the optics of emergency responses downtown have put some Saskatoon residents on edge.
Kaytlynn Kulcsar is the store manager at Funky Petals, which is situated on the block that was shut down during Thursday's scare.
She said she was more concerned about the white powder scares after hearing about the courthouse incident.
"It's affecting people and their businesses, and how they function throughout the day," said Kulcsar.
"It is scary, and some people get scared more than others, so it's disheartening, really, to know that people would want to do this to others."
She said she was dealing with the incidents by staying level-headed and reassuring others that everything is OK.
Unusual, but not surprising: Forensics prof
University of Saskatchewan forensic behavioural science professor Steve Wormith said although these types of events are unusual, he is not surprised by them.
"All it takes is one person," he said.
"And from almost a statistical point of view, it shouldn't be surprising that amongst hundreds of thousands of people or millions of people, from time to time, someone will engage in something that is not just illegal but inappropriate and problematic."
Nonetheless, Wormith said the recent spate of incidents would appear as a "blip" if they were to be monitored on a map.
Advice for the public
Police said anyone who may be handling mail should do so with caution. If a package or envelope appears to be suspicious, police suggest the following:
- Do not handle more than necessary.
- Isolate the area to stop the spread of possible contamination.
- Call 911.
- Report suspicious activity to Saskatoon Police at 306-975-8355 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.