White Powder Scare at Police Station

Big response closes Bay Street, but substance with letter is just cornstarch


 
 

John Annese | | Thursday, July 31, 2008


NEW YORK -- In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, when someone found an envelope filled with a suspicious powder, panic, a massive emergency response and national headlines followed.



When it happened yesterday at the 120th Precinct's St. George stationhouse, the emergency response arrived on cue, shutting down Bay Street and "decontaminating" 11 people in case the mystery substance proved hazardous.



By contrast, most passersby greeted the scene with indifference.



"Oh, come on!" said St. George resident Richenda Kramer, as she walked on the other side of the street, heading to the ferry terminal. "The level of hysteria is just ridiculous. ... I think it's overkill." If an envelope with white powder elicits such a massive response, she said, "then the terrorists succeeded beyond their wildest dreams."



In this case, the white powder turned out to be cornstarch, authorities said.



Police at the stationhouse discovered the envelope - addressed "to the members of the 120th Precinct" at 78 Richmond Terr. - sometime after 10 a.m.



Inside the envelope, cops found a threatening letter and the powder. The envelope was opened in the "outer office" of Deputy Inspector John Denesopolis, cops said.



Meanwhile, the FDNY deployed its "Major Emergency Response Vehicle" - essentially, a massive ambulance that resembles a red school bus and can handle 15 walk-up patients or three patients on stretchers at once.



Emergency workers set up a decontamination area behind the police stationhouse, where 10 civilians and two police officers were treated, but none required hospital care.



Paramvage Weeraradna, who works down the block from the stationhouse at Home Plates Eatery & Pizza, 58 Richmond Terr., understood the response but was frustrated that Bay Street was shut down.



"We are stuck," he said. "We don't have any business. Customers cannot come, and we cannot deliver."



And although most people walking by didn't even lift their heads or interrupt their conversations to find out what was going on, the response made an impression on a few people.



Adele Carter of Clifton called the response "necessary," but noted, "I think somebody's playing a prank on the precinct."



Standing outside a deli next to Home Plates, one merchant marveled that a single letter could have such an effect.



"That's crazy. One guy could do this? That's just crazy," he said. "When they catch him, they should arrest him for good to make an example so nobody will do it again."



Advance staff writer Phil Helsel contributed to this report.



John Annese is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at annese@siadvance.com




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Specialty Vehicles, Vehicle Operations, Special Operations, WMD and Terrorism

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Medics Ditch Pants for Kilts

“Real men do wear kilts.”
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC September 11 Commemoration

Tolling of the bell begins the anniversary ceremony.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wrong Fuel Cited in New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

Plane received jet fuel instead of aviation fuel.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wake County EMS PAT

Physical ability test demonstration.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >