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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A mentally unstable man arrested earlier this week here for the possession of three pipe bombs told police he tampered with baby food products and returned them to local retailers, alarming area consumers and retailers in the area in what might turn out to have been a costly hoax.
George Roger Myrick, a Surprise resident who was detained after reportedly attempting suicide, admitted to police and health officials that he had tampered with baby food and was trying to create salmonella at his apartment, according to Will Humble, bureau chief for disease control at the Arizona Department of Health.
"He purchased Gerber baby juice at three stores, a local Safeway, Fry's Marketplace, and Wal-Mart, with the intention to returning them to the store tampered," Humble told Progressive Grocer. "Local police found store receipts and Gerber bottled juice in the man's apartment, and the bottles are being tested."
The salmonella concoction Myrick referred to was juice extracted from a raw chicken that he let sit unrefrigerated for several days. Although the mixture is currently being tested, it is unlikely it contained salmonella. "He tried to kill himself by mainlining his own concoction, but he isn't sick at all," said Humble. "If something bad gets directly into the blood, it affects the body very quickly."
Police and FBI are also investigating the possibility that Myrick had done this before. "His loyalty card information and receipts found in his apartment indicate that he bought and returned Gerber juice during the past couple of years," said Humble.
Grocers within a two to three mile radius of the suspect's home were advised to pull Gerber baby juice products from shelves until the investigation was completed. "What this shows is the massive expense an undertaking like this causes -- for the grocers pulling product, to the law enforcement agencies that are involved, and the public health officials involved," said Humble. "But you can't take any risks -- after all, the pipe bombs were real."
-- Joseph Tarnowski