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No answer on FBI agents' illnesses after hazmat sweep of Niagara Falls apartment

Niagara County investigators have not found anything in a Packard Court apartment to explain why several FBI agents got sick after conducting a raid there, but are still waiting for lab results that could give them some answers, Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour said Thursday.

Voutour said the hazmat team that went into the apartment on Pine Avenue on Wednesday found no unusual chemicals other than cleaners and "something to start motors," but those were well-sealed in containers.

He said investigators sent additional samples from the apartment to the Erie County Forensic Laboratory to be tested for biological agents.

Federal agents, along with Niagara Falls police and sheriff's deputies, executed a search warrant at the apartment Dec. 14 and arrested 28-year-old Jeffrey Richards, after finding cocaine, heroin, marijuana, 10 guns and ammunition, and an improvised explosive device, according to authorities. He faces a series of criminal charges.

Over the next few days, several agents got sick with a respiratory ailment and "flu-like" symptoms that sent them to their doctors.

That led the FBI to ask Niagara County to sweep the apartment to determine if there was a connection, Voutour said.

"When the guys were in there with the monitors, they didn’t detect anything that was deadly or anything," Voutour said. "We're still hoping nothing comes back, but at this point we’d like answers and we don’t have any."

Hazmat team combs raided apartment in Niagara Falls after FBI agents get sick

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