Pinellas patrol deputy resigns after mailing toy bomb to sheriff’s office lieutenant as joke

Pinellas County
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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy has resigned after he admittedly mailed a toy bomb to a sheriff’s office lieutenant as a joke.

The incident caused an evacuation at the sheriff’s office administration building around 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

According to investigators, Lieutenant Joseph Gerretz was in his office at the building when he received a package through inner-office mail.

Lieutenant Gerretez opened the box at his desk.

The box was insulated with plastic packaging and contained a red cylinder-shaped object with protruding wires.

A handwritten note with the word “boom” was included inside the package.

The lieutenant immediately left his office and made notice of the potential threat.

Portions of the building were evacuated and a handler with a K9 bomb detection dog was called to the scene.

The K9 did not alert to the suspicious package.

Members of the Tampa Police Department Bomb Team responded and confirmed the device was not a threat and determined it to be a toy.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri sent agency wide communications regarding the evacuations and the toy device.

After seeing the sheriff’s communication, Deputy James Piper immediately contacted his supervisor and informed him that he sent the package to the lieutenant as a joke.

The supervisor notified his chain of command and Piper resigned effective immediately.  

Piper had been with the sheriff’s office for 33 years between 1982 and 2015 and was re-hired in 2017.

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