It is not uncommon for citizens to be displeased with the manner in which their complaint is dealt with by authorities. However, how far would one go? Petition continuously? Hold a protest? Well, a US man who was unhappy with the FBI for not taking his complaint seriously, resorted to a more than extreme measure: making a hoax bomb threat at the building housing the headquarters of the federal agency.

Gerardo Manuel Checo Nunez, 33, from Queens, New York, was arrested on Wednesday for making a hoax bomb threat at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building. He did so as he was disgruntled with the FBI for ignoring his complaint filed through the agency's website. Nunez had alleged in the complaint that his accounts had been hacked by a foreign government and that attempts were being made to extort him.

Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director‑in‑Charge, FBI, New York, said in a statement, "While Nunez's alleged threat to our federal building was deemed a hoax, his actions called for the resources of law enforcement, which were expended in response to one man's personal gripe. Aside from the fact that these types of hoax threats divert resources and cost taxpayer dollars, they put law enforcement in harm's way regardless of their intended purpose."

Threatening FBI with A 'Bomb'

Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building (Representational Picture)Wikimedia Commons

Nunez had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps from 2006 to 2013, including as an Engineer Equipment Operator. According to court documents, he visited the Javits Building—located at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan—on 17 November 2021. The 33-year-old approached a security booth that was manned by the FBI Police (uniformed security police of the FBI). Making a dramatic gesture, he slammed a copy of his previously filed complaint against the security screen.

However, the tension was set to escalate. He declared to the FBI Police that he had built an improvised explosive device (IED) in his vehicle—a full-size cargo van— and that he intended to turn himself in. Upon being asked to confirm whether there was an IED in his vehicle, the Queens resident replied affirmatively. He was taken into custody immediately and the members of the FBI's New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (the JTTF) were alerted.

Nunez was asked again by members of the JTTF if there was an IED in the vehicle. However, this time, he responded that there was no explosive device in the automobile. The New Yorker admitted that he cooked up the bomb hoax as he was displeased with the FBI ignoring his hacking complaints. Therefore, he resorted to this action to get their attention.

An improvised explosive device (Representational Picture)US National Archives & DVIDS

Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, "As alleged, the defendant's bomb threat caused an immediate mobilization by the FBI and the NYPD appropriate for a real explosive device. Hoax or not, a bomb threat requires the diversion of valuable law enforcement and public safety resources, and causes genuine fear in the public. "

A Costly Cry for Attention

Following his detainment, Nunez provided the authorities with a description of his vehicle and the location of where it was parked. The vehicle was located by the JTTF personnel outside the Javits Building across the street. It was found in the vicinity of an apartment building with numerous residents and a shut coffee shop. The area, including the apartment complex, was immediately evacuated by officers and was closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrians.

Arrest (Representational Picture)Reuters

In addition to this, the scene was also surveilled by at least one law enforcement helicopter. FBI bomb technicians conducted a thorough search of the vehicle and confirmed that it contained no explosive devices. However, during successive searches, several rounds of .223 caliber ammunition were found by members of the JTTF along with written materials about the detection of IEDs and weapons of mass destruction.

Dermot Shea, Commissioner of NYPD, said, "In a city that has experienced more than 50 terrorist plots and four attacks, making a claim that you have a bomb at a government building is no joke. Mr. Checo Nunez faces serious charges which should serve as an example to others who believe making threats is an effective way to get attention."

The former marine has been charged with one count of conveying false information and hoaxes in connection with the alleged bomb threat (in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1038). He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, Nunez's sentence will be determined by a judge.