Former deputy charged for mailing toy bomb to colleague

Pinellas County

A deputy was charged after sending a toy bomb to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

It prompted a partial evacuation of the administration building. 

James Piper, 59, resigned Tuesday after he admittedly mailed a toy bomb to the agency as a joke, authorities said. He was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with planting of hoax bomb, a second-degree felony.

On Tuesday, Lieutenant Joseph Gerretz received a package containing a handwritten note with the word “boom” written on it. The sheriff’s office was evacuated and a bomb squad was called in. 

Piper informed a supervisor it was a joke and resigned afterward. He and Gerretz have a friendly relationship, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri would not comment on the deputy’s joke, but has been vocal about the issue in the past when numerous threats were made against schools in the area last year.

“There’s nothing funny about this, especially when it comes to guns or any type of weapon or any type of threats,” the sheriff said last February. 

“I think it’s stupid. I think it’s ridiculous that a person who spent all this time on the force with given the current environment would do something like that,” said Rose Rowland, whose child goes to Pinellas Park High school where a threat to shoot up the school was written on the wall last year.

According to the jail’s website, Piper’s been released on a $5,000 bond.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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