Investigators: Marine recruiters felt threatened

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A bomb scare Tuesday at a military recruiting center in the Town of Tonawanda was a security threat taken very seriously by local law enforcement.

Daily life quickly came to a halt on Sheridan Drive near Parkhurst Blvd. and Eggert Rd., where roads had to be blocked off.

After speaking with the Erie County Sheriff Bomb Squad Commander, News 4 learned just how serious this incident was. He says the man threw a briefcase at a recruiter.  The briefcase had been made to look like a bomb.

“I think they have to take threats like this very seriously. You never know in this crazy changing world, people are always doing crazy stupid things. And obviously this is one of them,” said Frank Burkhart, who lives nearby.

A 25-year-old North Tonawanda resident had just returned from a weekend camping trip, investigators say, when he backed his vehicle into the parking spot, left it running, walked inside and started talking nonsense.

“Was making disjointed comments and illogical statements and acting in a way that just really raised the suspicion of everyone inside,” said Capt. Joseph Carosi of the Town of Tonawanda Police.

Suspicion turned to fear when investigators say the man threw a briefcase made to look like a bomb at a Marine recruiter.

When asked if the man wanted to scare people, Sgt. Greg Kent, Erie County Sheriff Bomb Squad Commander said, “Yes. Definitely wanted to scare people. They were scared. From his actions and from the package he left behind, they were definitely afraid of what was inside the suitcase.”

“The recruiters see all kinds of walks of life walking through their doors. And for them to be concerned about this gentleman’s behavior probably speaks as to the amount of intervention we have today,” Carosi said.

The briefcase turned out to be filled with wires and electrical components. Harmless. Yet, it looked threatening enough to close down Sheridan Dr. in the Town of Tonawanda until investigators were sure it was safe.  The Erie County Sheriff Bomb Squad used a robot to inspect and remove the suspicious briefcase.

“I think it’s, frankly it’s awful. Really I do,” said Raymond Miles, who works across the street. “To see something like this happen is terrible.”

Police caught the man blocks away and took him to ECMC for a mental evaluation. The FBI is involved in case federal charges are warranted.

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