More cameras proposed after suspicious envelope is left for Belleville mayor

News-DemocratJune 12, 2014 

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert and his wife Rita.

ZIA NIZAMI — znizami@bnd.com Buy Photo

— An envelope containing white powder left for the mayor of Belleville has prompted a proposal of additional surveillance cameras at City Hall.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said officials tested the substance and determined it was powdered sugar and not anthrax, as feared.

"I get threats quite often," Eckert said. "When people are angry, they're looking for someone to blame... Cameras won't fix things but it will help you after the fact to figure out who these people are."

Belleville Police Chief Bill Clay said the extra cameras will give investigators better visuals from more vantage points.

On Monday, the City Council will consider spending $4,234 with Barcom Security to add more cameras in the area leading to the mayor's office, the service counter for the city clerk and treasurer's offices and a drop-box outside City Hall.

Police believe it was at this drop box that an East St. Louis man left an envelope addressed to the mayor that contained a letter and a white powder.

When one of the mayor's administrative assistants opened the envelope on April 7, the powder spilled onto her desk and body.

The Belleville Police Department evacuated the second floor of City Hall, where the mayor's offices are located, until the St. Clair County Hazardous Materials Team tested the powder.

After officials found the substance was not toxic, police processed the letter, which had the name "King Burrow" at the top and an address.

Further investigation led police to King S. Burrow, 46, of the 700 block of North 52nd St. in East St. Louis.

Burrow wrote "strange," "impossible to follow" letters to City Hall in the past that were nonthreatening, Eckert said.

"But when he send us something that could be anthrax, it no longer is just a quirky letter," Eckert said. "Now it becomes a serious scare."

Officers who interviewed Burrow on May 5 believe he suffers from a mental illness. They contacted Chestnut Health Systems and a mental health professional there found that Burrow is in need of mental health assistance.

Burrow was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, a nontraffic complaint, and released to the custody of the mental health professional.

Burrow's first court appearance is scheduled for next Thursday at the St. Clair County Building.

Burrow previously was charged with three counts of disorderly conduct after similar incidents at government facilities. Past investigations were conducted by Centreville police and the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 618-239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

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