A Taft supermarket was locked down midday Thursday by a suspicious letter opened by personnel at the Bank of America branch inside Albertson's.
Police, fire and ambulance personnel rushed to the bank after two employees became ill during a routine mail opening procedure – apparently by a substance inside an envelope.
Later, a Kern County fire Department hazardous material team responded along with the FBI Joint terrorism Task Force.
Branch Manager Sherry Smith and Pam Mitchell were temporarily sickened by a substance in a piece of mail,
After being checked by paramedics they at first declined to be taken to a hospital but were later loaded into an ambulance to be taken for further examination and treatment.
Both appeared shaken but otherwise OK at the scene.
Taft police blocked both entrances to the building and are not allowing anyone in or out.
After about a half hour police began allowing shoppers inside to continue the checkout process and leave the store. But the store remained blocked and no one was being allowed in
People in the shopping center parking area thought the bank had been robbed because of the five police cruisers on scene – one of them parked on the sidewalk blocking the west entrance.
That may have sent the rumor mill into high gear.
Check Taftmidwaydriller.com for updates.