Florida man arrested over anthrax hoax

A Florida man was arrested on Thursday after he delivered a sealed envelope containing what is suspected to be a hazardous biological or chemical agent to the judge presiding over his traffic case.

John Ridge Emery III was charged with manufacture, possession, delivery, attempted or threatened use of a weapon of mass destruction, MySunCoast.com reports.

“Somebody threw a package of what they thought was anthrax,” Eddie Kahn, a witness, said, according to NBC-2.com.

The incident caused a mass evacuation and subsequent closing of the Charlotte County Justice Center HAZMAT on Thursday morning. Seventeen people in the courtroom were subsequently detained at a shelter building next to the Justice Center. All were later released when it was determined that there was no need for decontamination, NBC-2.com reports.

The contents of the envelope were quickly sealed in a container by Charlotte County HAZMAT officials and turned over to the Charlotte County Health Department, which has transported it to Tampa for further analysis, MySunCoast.com reports.

Anthrax, a serious bioterrorist agent, leads to death when inhaled between one-fourth and more than half of the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2001, about half of the cases of inhalational anthrax ended in death.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s office also announced on Thursday that they have issued a warrant for a second man suspected of being involved in the incident, according to MySunCoast.com.