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Wednesday, August 6, 2003



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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
On the corner of South Hotel and Alakea streets yesterday, a man was throwing white powder around. Firefighter Darrell Hee picked up a sample for testing, which showed it to be ordinary talcum.



Powder scare
closes District Court

Tests later determine a scattered
substance was foot-odor powder


Afternoon hearings and appointments at Honolulu District Court were canceled yesterday after a man threw white powder at a nearby bus stop and left.

Police said a man in his late 40s approached the bus stop on Alakea Street mauka of Hotel Street about 12:15 p.m. and threw the powder -- later determined to be talcum powder -- around the bus stop. Some of the powder landed on a woman, who returned to her downtown Honolulu office and called police.

Police said the woman did not have a reaction to the powder, but fire investigators and hazardous material teams were called to test the powder. Police kept pedestrians away from the District Court sidewalks and closed two lanes of traffic on Alakea Street while fire officials investigated.

"It's better to err on the side of caution," said police Sgt. Curtis Sakamoto.

The computer test indicated the powder was a foot-odor or talcum powder, said Sakamoto.

Jean Yamane, District Court administrator, said all court appointments were canceled for the rest of the day because no one could get in or out of the building. However, court personnel escorted some employees out a back door.

On Friday, a man wearing gloves handed a Bank of Hawaii employee a loan application at the downtown branch. The employee drove herself to Kaiser after her hands became itchy, but tests of the paper revealed no toxins.

Police said there are no apparent connections between the two incidents.

Daniel Vavra arrived at District Court just after police came and saw people walking through the powder before police closed the sidewalks and the court building.

"I just threw my cigarette in the rubbish, and I saw a yellow bottle of talcum powder," said Vavra. "And I went to show the police."

The court building remained closed after police opened the building after 1 p.m., but only the records and warrants sections were opened.

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