AVON – A nationwide bomb threat scare that struck Avon Town Plaza on East Main Street had the Avon Police Department and later the FBI thoroughly investigating in the days following Memorial Day.
Investigating members of the Avon Police Department and K9 units with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and Rochester Police Department ultimately found the threat not to be credible. Avon Police Chief Gary Benedict says that there is no threat to the community.
“An employee goes to open at about 7:45 a.m. on May 30 and hears the printer going off,” said Avon Police Chief Gary Benedict. “She thinks this is unusual because it’s so early and no one else is in the office. This printer only prints checks and is controlled by their corporate headquarters, which is out of the area. Written on the check coming out of the printer is something to the effect of ‘If you don’t give $20,000 to this person, we’re going to blow up the building.'”
The employee made an emergency call and Avon Police began what would eventually become an investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) of federal and state agencies.
“The exact same threat was sent to IP addresses in Monroe County, including Irondequoit, and there was at least one location in Michigan,” said Benedict. “We evacuated the plaza, but not many people were there since it was so early. There were a couple people in Dollar General. We called the Sheriff’s Office to assist with a K9 unit certified to detect explosives, and State Police, and eventually a Rochester Police K9 came down. All three K9’s swept the plaza and its perimeter and found no explosives.”
Avon Police continued investigating.
“We contacted the IT at Coastal, who confirmed that they had not been hacked but asked what the IP address of the printer was that received the message,” said Benedict. “Their IT reasoned out that to receive this message, the printer must be on, have its own IP address, be hooked up to the internet and have certain digits in its IP address. We called investigators in Irondequoit and Irondequoit’s printer had some matching digits to our Coastal printer’s IP address. We forwarded this information to Counter Terrorism investigators.”
As far as Benedict knows, the federal investigation into the origin of the threats is ongoing, but members of the JTTF, which includes New York State Police, the FBI and DEA traced the message to somewhere in Las Vegas.