Let this be a hoax

Seattle Gay Bars Targeted By Anonymous Ricin Poisoning Threat

Looking to enjoy a night out grabbing drinks with friends? Great! Live in Seattle? Not so great. That’s because at least 11 bar owners have received threatening letters saying patrons will be targeted with ricin poisoning. Ingesting ricin generally isn’t fatal (but it can be, especially if inhaled), but the castor bean concoction doesn’t go well with a dirty martini, either.

Eleven gay bars in Seattle received letters today addressed to the “Owner/Manager” from someone claiming to be in the possession of ricin, a deadly poison. “Your establishment has been targeted,” the letter begins. “I have in my possession approximately 67 grams of ricin with which I will indiscriminately target at least five of your clients.”

“I felt sick when I read it,” said Carla, the owner/manager of Re-bar. “It’s so vile. It’s just hatred. It made me worry for all the other bars, and for my bartenders, and our clientele.”

According to the CDC’s website, someone who has ingested “a significant amount” will develop vomiting and diarrhea within the first 6-12 hours; other symptoms of ricin poisoning include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. There is no antidote for ricin but ricin exposure is not invariably fatal.

“I just had the police come pick [the letter] up,” said Keith Christensen, the manager of the Eagle, when reached by phone. Christensen had already heard about the letter from other bar owners and managers, and so he didn’t open it. “It’s probably nothing,” Christensen added, “but the economy is really screwing all the bars right now, and the last thing we need is something ramping up the not-go-out mode people seem to be in right now. It’s really freaky that someone would do something like this at a time like this.”

eagle1-6-09.jpgChristensen says he’s posted signs at the Eagle advising patrons not to leave their drinks unattended.

It gets sicker:

A letter also arrived in The Stranger’s offices, addressed to the attention of “Obituaries.” The letter’s author said the paper should “be prepared to announce the deaths of approximately 55 individuals all of whom were patrons of the following establishments on a Saturday in January.” The listed bars are: the Elite, Neighbours, Wild Rose, the Cuff, Purr, the Eagle, R Place, Re-bar, CC’s, Madison Pub, and the Crescent. “I could take this moment to launch into a diatribe about my indignation towards the gay community,” the letter concludes, “however, I think the deaths will speak for themselves.” [Slog]