One deputy’s ill-conceived joke just put an entire department on blast.
A sheriff’s deputy in Florida resigned Tuesday after sending a colleague a colorful toy bomb – complete with a handwritten note reading “boom” – that forced an evacuation, authorities said.
James Piper, a 59-year-old deputy at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, stepped down from his post after admitting he mailed the toy bomb to Lt. Joseph Gerretz at his office in the sheriff’s administration building via office mail, the department announced Tuesday.
“Lieutenant Gerretz opened the box at his desk,” the agency said in an incident report. “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.”
Unaware of the package’s actual contents, Gerretz then immediately vacated his office and notified others of the potential threat. That prompted a partial evacuation of the sheriff’s administration building at 10750 Ulmerton Road in Largo.
A K-9 bomb detection dog responded to the scene, but did not alert to the suspicious package, sheriff official said.
Officers from the Tampa Police Department Bomb Squad also responded to the scene and confirmed that the device was a toy and did not pose a threat.
Piper soon contacted his supervisor after seeing the unexpected response to his package and admitted to sending the device as a joke. He then resigned, effective immediately.
Piper, who did not return a request seeking comment Wednesday, was rehired by the department in 2017 after 13 years of service from 1982 and 2015, department officials said.