[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/24/art.pierello.file.cnn.jpg caption="The FBI is investigating a 'suspicious incident' at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother."]Washington (CNN) – Days after his address was posted online by a Virginia Tea Party activist, the FBI and local law enforcement officials are investigating a "suspicious incident" at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother.
A line to the propane tank on his brother's gas grill had been "severed," an aide to the Democratic congressman told CNN.
"It was enough that he could smell the gas," the aide said.
The Albemarle County Fire Marshal's office confirmed they are investigating the incident - which took place in Ivy, Virginia - along with the FBI.
"While officials are not willing to characterize the exact nature of the incident because of the ongoing investigation, it did not involve an immediate threat to occupants of the residence," Lee Catlin, Community Relations Director for the Fire Marshal, told CNN. "However officials are taking the incident very seriously and conducting a vigorous investigation. Additional details will be released as the investigation continues."
Catlin said county officials joined the investigation late Tuesday after a request from the FBI.
Politico reported Monday that a Tea Party activist in Lynchburg, angry over Perriello's vote in favor of health care reform legislation, had posted the address of Perriello's brother online and encouraged other activists to "stop by" and weigh in on the bill. The activist had apparently meant to post the congressman's home address but mistakenly published his brother's.
Perriello, who represents Virginia's conservative-leaning 5th congressional district, encompassing central and southern parts of the state. He was narrowly elected to his first term in 2008 and is considered one of the most vulnerable House Democrats in 2010.
On Wednesday, Perriello's office issued the following statement:
“My number one priority right now is ensuring the safety of my brother’s family, and I am grateful to law enforcement for their excellent work. While it is too early to say anything definitive regarding political motivations behind this act, it’s never too early for political leaders to condemn threats of violence, particularly as threats to other Members of Congress and their children escalate. And so I ask every member of House and Senate leadership to state unequivocally tonight that it is never OK to harm or threaten elected officials and their families with anything more than political retribution. Here in America, we settle our political differences at the ballot box.”