Juvenile-delinquency charges were filed today against an Iroquois Senior High School student who reportedly set off a phony anthrax scare at the district campus last week because he wanted the day off.
"Hopefully, this arrest will put the residents of the school district at ease, knowing that this was not the act of a terrorist, but rather the act of a misguided student who wanted a day off from school," said Erie County Sheriff Patrick M. Gallivan.
Because the suspect is 15, the case is being handled in Erie County Family Court rather than criminal courts, Gallivan said. The boy surrendered to authorities in Family Court this morning.
The sheriff said he will seek the maximum possible punishment, which would be placement in a juvenile detention facility, "in an effort to deter other actions of this nature."
In addition, Gallivan said he has asked the county attorney's office to "seek full restitution for the thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted by what we now know to be an unnecessary emergency response."
About 700 students -- including Gallivan's daughter -- were quarantined in their classrooms on Girdle Road in Elma for nearly 10 hours Wednesday after school officials received a letter stating that "anthrax may be in the building -- this is a warning not a threat."
The students were sent home only after investigators determined that the letter was a hoax.
Meanwhile, fears related to recent anthrax scares resulted Monday in the closing of a Niagara County school and disruption of business at a medical office. A business in Alden was the target of a telephoned threat.
Colonial Village Elementary School in the Niagara-Wheatfield district was closed because of a "suspicious" envelope found stuffed into the front door. An identical envelope was found at an obstetrics/gynecology office in Lockport.
The envelopes were treated as if they were hazardous, but when finally opened, they were found to contain nothing more than advertisements from an Amherst collection agency.
Meanwhile, an Alden business provided investigators with a lead in a series of anthrax threats.
Someone called Dunes Jafine Inc., at Broadway and Town Line Road, at about 6 a.m. Monday and said there was anthrax in the building, according to Mary Murray, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department.
After the caller hung up, the manager who answered the phone pressed "*69," and investigators were able to trace the call to a pay phone at French and Borden roads in Cheektowaga. Nobody was found at the phone, but investigators found tire tracks and are pursuing leads.
Emergency crews responded to the business and remained for several hours.
Also Monday, Assemblyman Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, announced he will introduce legislation establishing tougher penalties for those making such threats.