Angry Man Releases Bedbugs In City Office

A man in Augusta, Maine, reportedly angry because he had been denied assistance, is alleged to have slammed a cup of live bedbugs on a counter at a municipal office, causing the building to temporarily shut down.

The man had previously come to the code enforcement office at the Augusta City Center to complain that his apartment had bedbugs, according to WPIX. After he had shown the cup, filled with about 100 bedbugs, to a manager at his apartment building, the manager told him that he could not live there and would have to leave.

When he returned to the City Center, he was told that he would not qualify for assistance. Becoming angry, the man allegedly attacked the office with the bugs.

"He whipped out a cup [full of live bedbugs] and slammed it on the counter, and bam, off they flew, maybe 100 of them," said City Manager William Bridgeo. The man is reported to have then yelled, "'They're your problem now!'"

Soon after the bugs began to spread in the building, Assistant City Manager Ralph St. Pierre sprayed the bugs with Windex, which happened to be at the office, the Kennebec Journal reports. The Windex appeared to help stop the bugs, and St. Pierre used paper towels to try to scoop up as many of the bugs as he could.

The building was cleared about half an hour after the June 2 incident.

"It made sense at that point to close the building to make sure the public or employees don't get exposed and take [bedbugs] home with them," said Bridgeo. "They're nasty little buggers when they take hold somewhere."

It's unclear whether any charges have been filed against the man, who has not been identified. Bridgeo said he signed a criminal complaint and trespass orders against the man, and expected he would be charged.

According to Sgt. Christopher Shaw the police were still looking into the case, and had not yet decided whether to bring charges.

Bridgeo said the spray used by exterminators should have neutralized by June 5, and people would be able to return to work. Bedbug detecting dogs are also set to come inspect the building to check if any of the pests survived the spray. If none are found, the building will reopen.

"Those dogs are amazing, so if any bedbugs are left standing, we'll know about it," said Bridgeo, who has worked as a municipal manager since 1976 but said he's "never had anything as yucky as this" happen before.

If living bedbugs are found in the General Assistance area, that area will be closed and its services will be moved to another location. If they are found in other parts of the building, those areas will be closed off as well. The city manager said he did not expect the building to remain closed on June 5.

Bedbugs are small, brown, flat bugs that feed on human blood. After they drink blood, they become larger and turn red.

To search for bedbugs, the EPA advises looking in the seams of chairs, couches and beds. It also suggests looking for rusty or reddish stains that will indicate where bugs have been crushed.

Sources: Kennebec Journal, WPIX, EPA / Photo credit: NY State IPM Program at Cornell University/Flickr

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