Tonawanda News

The Town

May 30, 2014

Man behind bomb scare facing charges

Tonawanda News — The man who allegedly caused a bomb scare on Sheridan Drive on Tuesday is now facing federal charges, U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. announced. 

Jason Gentzke, 25, of Tonawanda, has been charged with intentionally conveying false information indicating that the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in the Town of Tonawanda would be damaged by an explosive device. 

Authorities said Gentzke entered the office, located at 2820 Sheridan Drive, on Tuesday morning and threw a suitcase that appeared to contain electronics, cords and wires into the office. 

“He actually threw it at recruiters,” Erie County Bomb Squad commander Sgt. Greg Kent said of the man’s actions with the briefcase. “He definitely wanted to scare people.” 

Gentzke made threatening statements before fleeing the area on foot.  

The charges carry a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. 

Town of Tonawanda Capt. Joseph Carosi issued a statement Thursday and said that the department is deferring to federal authorities to handle the prosecution of Gentzke because the incident took place at an Armed Forces Recruiting Center. 

The bomb scare shut down a portion of Sheridan Drive for a few hours on Tuesday as the Erie County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted local police at the scene. 

After the building and surrounding area was evacuated, a robot used to diffuse bombs was brought in to search the man’s suitcase and his vehicle. The Erie County Bomb Squad determined that the suitcase contained a power strip cord, a fish tank filter and other materials. There was not an explosive device at the scene, Hochul’s statement said.

Patrol officers quickly tracked down Gentzke, and he was taken to the Erie County Medical Center for a mental evaluation. 

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