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City hall cleared after anthrax scare and bomb threat hoax

| July 19, 2017

COSHOCTON – A potential dangerous situation reported at municipal court on Wednesday morning, July 19, thankfully turned out to be a hoax.

“At 10:40 a.m. we got a call from dispatch about a white powder found in the mail at municipal court,” said Coshocton Fire Department Chief Mike Layton. “Upon investigation it was discovered that the letter said it was anthrax.”

After that the fire department called in mutual aid from Zanesville’s hazmat team to assist Coshocton’s.

“Preliminary field tests said the powder found was a sweetener type material,” Layton said. “The postal inspector also did a field test and said it was an inactive material and so did the FBI and Zanesville hazmat. We have determined it not to be a hazardous material at this point.”

The six municipal court employees though who were in the area where the envelope with the powder was opened went through the hazmat decontamination tent and were transported by Coshocton County EMS to the hospital. Once at Coshocton Regional Medical Center they went through another hazmat decontamination tent and precautionary observation.

“This was a very bad hoax and the FBI has taken charge of the substance we found,” Layton said.

Coshocton County Sheriff Tim Rogers confirmed that the letter received also mentioned a bomb being under a certain vehicle. Assistance from Columbus Fire Bomb Squad was requested to help deal with this threat and they did not find any items to cause concern.

“We had multiple agencies here today and I want to comment on the great level of cooperation and the way everyone worked together,” said Sheriff Rogers. “We had people here from the federal to local level and I commend everyone who showed up. The FBI is handling the criminal aspect of this and we will follow through with any evidence collected.”

Coshocton Fire Department Captain Rick Mills thanked those who assisted at the scene.

“A job well done to all the agencies,” he said. “We worked well together and I’m proud of everyone who showed up.”

Coshocton City Mayor Steve Mercer also expressed his thanks.

“Although it turned out not to be anthrax this was still a real time, real life threat that our people experienced,” he said. “This is going to have a very real and lasting effect for our employees and we are going to take a look at how we do things and how we prepare.”

The scene was secured right before 3 p.m., but Mercer said the decision was made to shut city hall down for the rest of the day on July 19. Business was expected to go on as usual on Thursday, July 20.

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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