Powder in hotel was one pound of Potassium Cyanide
FBI joins probe of possible cyanide poisoning deathAug 12:
Denver cops investigate possible cyanide deathPossible cyanide poisoning victim from Ottawa Pound of cyanide found in room where man diedAug 11:
Exposure to potassium cyanide or sodium cyanide can cause asphyxiation and death, weakness, headaches, confusion, nausea, vomiting, increased respiratory rate, and slow respiratory gasping.
Man in possible cyanide poisoning identified Cyanide eyed in deathAuthorities are testing a pound of a granular substance found inside an upscale Denver hotel room to determine if it is cyanide.
A Canadian national was found dead on Monday inside room 408 of the Burnsley Hotel.
The Denver Coroner's Office has not completed the autopsy of 29-year-old Saleman Abdirahman Dirie.
The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is assisting Denver police with the investigation.
"You have a suspicious substance that was found in a hotel room in conjunction with person being a foreign national and we have a lot of questions and that is why we are assisting," said Denver FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright.
Authorities are trying to determine why Dirie was in Denver and how and when he got into the United States.
Wright did not say that the case appeared to be related to terrorism or the Democratic National Convention.
"There is not necessarily more of a concern, but it is something we are aware of and how close the DNC is," she said. "We want to make sure we do everything we can to find out the unknown."
Denver Fire Lt. Phil Champagne said labeling on the plastic container suggested it was cyanide, but testing has not been completed.
"Denver fire on the scene did not field test the product," he said. "We bagged it and the police and medical examiner took control of the product."
The Associated Press and KMGH-Channel 7 reported today that police have identified the white powder as sodium cyanide. Denver police have not returned calls to The Denver Post this afternoon and others could not confirm that report.
Denver police said Dirie had apparently been dead for several days when he was found dead in a suite in the hotel at 10th and Grant on Monday morning.
After the coroner's office said cyanide might be a factor, investigators returned a few hours later and found the powder thought to cyanide.
For a short time, streets were blocked off around the hotel until the level of hazardous-material risk was assessed.
No other hotel guests or employees became ill, and the contamination has not been found elsewhere in the hotel, Denver police said Monday.
Jason Ford, general manager of the 17-story Burnsley hotel, said Tuesday he had no comment on Dirie or how long he had stayed at the hotel.
"We always respect the privacy of all our guests," he said.
A public records search of the last name "Dirie" in Ottawa turned up a half dozen names; a database search in the Denver area found four.
Calls to people thought to be Dirie's relatives in Ottawa were not immediately returned. Authorities have released no information on why Dirie was in the country.
The Ottawa Sun newspaper reported that Dirie was a member of the city's Somali community and interviewed manager Addirizuk Karod, manager of the Somali Centre for Family Services, who recalled Dirie coming to the center with friends.
He told the paper the Dirie family came to Ottawa as refugees years earlier but had attained Canadian citizenship. Dirie's father had traveled to Denver when he learned of his son's death, Karod said.
"Dirie" is not uncommon, but "Abdirahman" is very common in some African countries: A Nexis search of African and Middle Eastern newspapers produced more than 3,000 hits.
A Google search of "Abdirahman Dirie" — excluding news stories about the man found in the Burnsley — found two postings.
One was a poem attributed to an author by that name entitled "Love."
The other was a blog comment posted July 11 under the heading "Somali Christian Blog Abandoned" attributed to a "Abdirahman Dirie" that read: "Please don't talk s---, that man deserves what happened to him, simply because having the bible in one hand, and a bread in the other hand, is not a correct thing! Kill Them, Kill them, Kill them, that is my massage!" (sic)
No database or Internet record could be found of a "Saleman Abdirahman Dirie."
Calls to the Canadian Consulate regarding Dirie have not been returned, and it is unclear how long he had been in this country.
Cyanide is a fast-acting poison that prevents the cells from using oxygen, causing a fast die off of cells in the heart, brain and other organs, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Possessing sodium cyanide is not illegal because it is used in mining to extract gold and for other industrial purposes.