QUEENSBURY — A U.S. Postal Service employee was credited with spotting the suspicious package that contained an inactive hand grenade last week, flagging it for inspection that led to the discovery of the device.
The package was found Thursday in the mailbox outside Warren County Municipal Center. It did not have any postage on it, and was addressed to Warren County Judge John Hall, with a return address of the Warren County District Attorney’s Office, authorities said.
Warren County Undersheriff Shawn Lamouree said the postal worker thought it was strange that the package would not have been sent through the Municipal Center’s standard interoffice mail.
“He thought it was suspicious and brought it into the building to the security checkpoint and they decided it should be X-rayed,” Lamouree said.
The X-ray machine showed the outline of what appeared to be a grenade inside, along with other items that made it appear that it was rigged to explode when opened, police said.
State Police bomb disposal experts were called, retrieved the device and concluded it was inactive. The court wing of the Municipal Center was closed Thursday afternoon because of the threat, but re-opened Friday.
The package contained the device as well as a letter that included threats toward law enforcement. The handwriting in that letter was recognized by sheriff’s officers as possibly from Hadley resident Joseph A. Schutta, who has for years been sending letters about conspiracy theories to local police agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, authorities said.
Schutta, 48, of Old Corinth Road, was charged later Thursday after a Sheriff’s Office investigation and faces felony counts of making a terroristic threat and criminal possession of a weapon.
Police said he did not offer any motive for the threat, but Hall had sentenced Schutta to two years in Warren County Jail in 2005 after he pleaded guilty to multiple felony and misdemeanor charges for threatening another person and illegally possessing a semiautomatic handgun that had its serial number filed off.
Authorities said Schutta also will be charged in Saratoga County for allegedly picking up two screwdrivers and making aggressive movements toward Warren County sheriff’s officers when they went to his home Thursday night to arrest him.
Schutta is being held in Warren County Jail without bail, pending a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Queensbury Town Court, unless a grand jury indicts him beforehand. Acting Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone could not be reached Monday.
Schutta has a criminal record that includes prior threat-related and weapons-related charges in Warren and Saratoga counties as well as New York City.