Texas Mayor Receives Package Containing Noose and Threatening Letter amid Reelection Campaign

Fred Burton is seeking a third term as Arcola mayor in the town's municipal elections on May 4

<p>City of Arcola Texas; Arcola Police Department/Facebook</p> Arcola Mayor Fred Burton

City of Arcola Texas; Arcola Police Department/Facebook

Arcola Mayor Fred Burton

A small-town Texas mayor received a package containing a noose and a warning as his contentious reelection bid comes to a head.

Mayor Fred Burton of Arcola, Texas, was sent the threatening package on Tuesday, April 23, according to the police department, which shared a statement and photos on Facebook.

In the photos, a typed letter that reads, "Get out of the race now!!" sits beside the noose, both of which arrived in the envelope addressed to Burton.

The Arcola Police Department said the incident is “being treated with the utmost seriousness,” and that the FBI is assisting with its investigation in the city of about 2,000 people.

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<p>Arcola Police Department/Facebook</p> Arcola Mayor Fred Burton received a threatening package on April 23, which included a noose and this typed letter

Arcola Police Department/Facebook

Arcola Mayor Fred Burton received a threatening package on April 23, which included a noose and this typed letter

In a development in the case on Wednesday, April 24, Chief Arika Carr-Bryant of the Arcola Police Department shared that “several inconsistencies” with the package were found by police.

"The package had inconsistencies such as a missing postmark and a misspelling of Scranton, PA," Carr-Bryant told PEOPLE via email. "Despite these discrepancies, it was confirmed to have been delivered by the USPS, leading us to treat this as a credible threat."

Burton has resided in Arcola, part of the Greater Houston area, since 2000, according to his city bio. He was reelected to his second term as mayor on Nov. 3, 2020.

Related: Tx. Mayor Resigns After Telling 'Lazy' Residents 'No One Owes You' Anything amid Calls for Help: 'Quit Crying'

This week's threat against Burton comes amid a series of scandals during his 2024 campaign.

The Houston Landing reports that Burton spent $7,500 of public funds on a private investigator to trail a council member and her family in an effort to prove that she lived in a neighboring town and should be kicked off the council.

The outlet cites an invoice in that amount billed to "The Honorable Fred Burton, City of Arcola" which clearly states that it covered surveillance of the council member. The Landing reports that in a February city council meeting, Burton openly admitted to using public funds for that purpose, saying, “That’s what you call the responsibility of taxpayer’s money."

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On April 13, per the Landing, Burton sparked controversy again when he posted a video to a private Facebook group for Arcola residents of mayoral candidate Veeda Williams’ campaign flyer being set on fire. The video was later removed.

<p>City of Arcola Texas</p> Mayor Fred A. Burton of Arcola, Texas

City of Arcola Texas

Mayor Fred A. Burton of Arcola, Texas

Speaking on April 23 about the threatening package sent to Burton amid tension in the mayoral race, police said, “We are committed to our code of ethics and values, and remain impartial and objective in carrying out our responsibilities … Our commitment to the well-being of the City of Arcola always comes first, no matter the political climate. This is a crime and it will be investigated as any other crime.”

Burton did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment about the recent events unfolding around his campaign.

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