A runners group caused a scare in Mill Creek on Sunday after using a not-so-mysterious white powder to mark a route.
A group of runners is performing a few mea culpas after marking a running route around Mill Creek with flour, leading to a scare over a “suspicious powder.”
Witnesses on Sunday spotted two young men with backpacks liberally sprinkling white powder near the city’s Cougar Park, prompting calls to police. The mysterious powder was also found later in the evening in another part of the city, according to a Mill Creek news release.
The city said most of the powder was washed away in case it posed a danger to health, but a sample was taken so it could be sent to the Washington State Patrol crime lab for analysis.
Police noted that the initial investigation indicated there was no immediate health hazard. Nonetheless, police urged citizens to take “appropriate precautions,” including avoiding contact with anything that appeared suspicious or hazardous.
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“The Mill Creek Police Department is dedicating our resources to this investigation,” Police Chief Greg Elwin noted in the news release.
Police then received an anonymous call indicating that the substance was in fact flour.
The caller said she was a member of a local runners group that held a run Sunday, with two male members dropping flour around the city to mark a route. The city said a lab analysis of the substance confirmed it was common flour.
“The running group fully understands the impact of their activity on the community,” the city wrote in a follow-up news release.
The city didn’t identify the running group, but one loosely-organized group known as the Hash House Harriers has used flour to mark routes. Hashing is a mix of running, route finding and beer drinking fellowship that traces it roots back to 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to this Seattle Times story.