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Published: April 18, 2007 08:08 pm    print this story   email this story   comment on this story  

LEWISTON: Man arrested after hospital bomb threat

Officials locked down and partially evacuated Mount St. Mary’s Wednesday morning

By Aaron Besecker/
Niagara Gazette

A 26-year-old Grand Island man was arrested Wednesday morning after he allegedly told personnel at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston he had multiple bombs inside a gift box.

Scott A. Zientek, 1492 Ferry Road, now faces a felony charge after his remarks triggered an emergency lockdown and partial evacuation shortly before 10:30 a.m.

The emergency procedures were eventually halted several minutes later after Zientek allegedly admitted he was kidding when he told a receptionist he had “a few bombs and some poison” inside a pink-wrapped box, Lewiston Police Chief Ron Winkley said.

Zientek, who was visiting a patient in the emergency room, was charged with falsely reporting a fire or explosive device in a public building, a D felony.

Hospital spokesman Fred Caso said hospital staff took the situation very seriously and followed established procedures in response to the situation.

“We have plans in place for things like this,” Caso said. “We practice those plans. We review those plans. Unfortunately, this morning we had to implement those plans.”

The situation began when Zientek approached a receptionist in the waiting area of the hospital’s emergency room asking for a piece of tape for a bow on his gift box, according to Winkley.

Noticing the 10”-by-14”-box wrapped in pink paper, the receptionist asked Zientek what was inside. That’s when he allegedly said it contained multiple explosive devices and poison.

The receptionist told her supervisor about the comment and a call was placed to police at 10:21 a.m.

It was at that point further actions by Zientek complicated the situation, according to police. The receptionist, along with other hospital staff, could not find the man who minutes earlier allegedly made the threat.

“When (the receptionist) turned back around he was gone, but the box was there,” Winkley said.

Zientek, who had gone to visit a friend in the emergency room, returned minutes later.

The whole incident took about 8 or 9 minutes to play out, police said.

The box ended up having gifts inside it, according to officials.

Lewiston Police Sgt. Frank Previte said the situation became more complex because of the assailant’s other suspicious activities in addition the comment. Those activities included leaving the scene after the comment was made.

At one point, Zientek asked hospital staff if they could temporarily keep the box behind their desk, Previte said.

Law enforcement officials from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department and the State Police also responded to the scene.

Zientek appeared “very remorseful for his actions” following the incident, Winkley said.

Zientek was arraigned before Town of Porter Justice David Truesdale. He was sent to the Niagara County Jail in lieu of $1,000 bail.

He is scheduled to appear in Lewiston Town Court on Tuesday.