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Mad Bomber Attacks Erie, Pa Water Supply!

Miles Ignatius

....In the home town of our Director of Homeland Security, no less!

[B]-Sorry, guys - here's the text of the article-Miles[/B]

Much ado about nothing

Kiersten Strunk tells Erie police officers about the man she spotted walking around the Sigsbee Reservoir Thursday morning. (RICH FORSGREN/Erie Times-News)
By Tim Hahn

The emergency workers assumed the worst about the mysterious black bag found at the edge of the Sigsbee Reservoir.

It turned out the bag contained only Troy Musil's dirty little secret.

Moments after chasing off a trespasser from the reservoir property Thursday morning, an Erie Water Works employee spotted the black bag on a walkway ringing the reservoir that rises above West 26th Street.

Soon, emergency responders trained to be on edge in the post-9/11 world shut down the reservoir, barricaded nearby streets and began investigating the possibility the trespasser aimed to contaminate the public water supply — perhaps with deadly chemical agents or even a bomb.

It wasn't until nearly four hours later that the people in the hazardous-materials and bomb-squad suits discovered the bag contained not any agents of terror, but only Musil's soiled underpants.

While the emergency-response teams developed a plan for dealing with the incident, first reported to authorities at 8:42 a.m., Erie police began looking for the trespasser. Witnesses' descriptions of the man and a maroon Honda Accord he was believed to be driving led to Musil, 18, at West 32nd and Cascade streets.

After officers took Musil to the downtown police station shortly after noon, he told them the bag at the reservoir contained clothing that included underwear he had defecated in. Members of the Erie Bomb Squad then checked the bag, and found what Musil said they would, Police Chief Charles Bowers said.

Musil, of the 700 block of East 22nd Street, told police he had soiled himself while feeling sick on Wednesday. He went to a friend's house on West 28th Street behind the reservoir, changed his clothes, put the clothes he was wearing into a black garbage bag and threw it atop the reservoir, Erie police Lt. Joe Kress said.

Musil also admitted being the person seen walking along the top of the reservoir Thursday morning, Kress said. Musil said he had gone back to the reservoir to retrieve a picture that had fallen off a key chain when he disposed of the bag.

Musil will be charged by summons with trespassing, police said.

Thursday's incident came a day after U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft warned the public that al-Qaida operatives might already be in the United States and planning new terrorist attacks this summer.

Amid those warnings and the heightened alert local authorities have been on since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, emergency workers said they had no choice but to assume the bag found near the biggest of Erie's public water sources could pose a threat.

"You have to treat any incident in a serious manner," Erie Assistant Fire Chief Tom Lawson said as members of the Erie County Hazardous Materials Response Team slipped on white coveralls and green boots in preparation for examining the bag.

The Hazmat team and Erie police moved swiftly after the Water Works employee reported the trespasser and the black bag. Within minutes, Water Works staff shut down the Sigsbee Reservoir and issued a public advisory asking its customers to try to conserve water.

Police shut off traffic along West 26th Street between Cherry and Chestnut streets and also blocked traffic on Sigsbee Street along the west perimeter of the reservoir.

The reservoir which occupies a full city block.

Soon the Erie Bureau of Police was flooded with phone calls from people who wanted to know whether the water coming from their taps was safe to drink.

The Sigsbee Reservoir holds up to 33 million gallons of water and serves 30,000 of the Erie Water Works' 52,000 customers, spokesman Bill Brown said. Water was pulled in from other supply areas on the system during the shutdown to cover the areas normally fed by the reservoir, Brown said.

No one lost water service during the shutdown, but a water break developed along West 26th Street in front of the reservoir that kept crews working late into Thursday night to repair it.

A nearby resident, Kiersten Strunk, spotted Musil walking along the hillside on the Sigsbee Street side of the reservoir at about 8:20 a.m. on Thursday. She said she didn't think it was unusual for someone to be walking on the hill between a chain-link fence bordering the sidewalk below and another fence at the top of the hill near the edge of the reservoir.

Both fences are topped with barbed wire. But Strunk said people regularly access the slopes of the reservoir by slipping through a gap along Sigsbee Street where the lower chain-link fence meets an iron fence lining the southern side of reservoir.

Strunk said she didn't see Musil hop the fence at the top of the reservoir slope. Police believe he did so by scaling a light pole on the southwest corner of the property.

A short time later, a Water Works employee cutting grass around the reservoir encountered Musil and chased him off the property. The employee then spotted the black bag and called police.

The employee and Strunk gave police descriptions that helped them find Musil. Police also looked for the maroon, four-door Honda Accord witnesses saw in the area, and found Musil and the car about 11 a.m. in the area of West 32nd and Cascade streets.

Meanwhile, the plan of attack laid out by city and Erie County emergency management officials called for the Erie Bomb Squad to examine the bag first to make sure it wasn't explosive. Bomb Squad members also would check all of the hatches on the reservoir's cover to make sure they were still locked and the water beneath had not been tampered with, said Lawson, the assistant fire chief.

Once the Bomb Squad's work was done, members of the Erie County Hazardous Materials Response Team would go in and make sure there were no harmful chemicals or radioactive agents inside the bag, Lawson said.

The plan never advanced beyond the Bomb Squad's role. Musil's description of the bag's contents ended the incident, and the neighborhood began to return to normal.
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Dear Leader
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JNA said:
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