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<nettime> hazmat teams search prof's home
nettime's_words_fail_me on Sun, 16 May 2004 20:12:14 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> hazmat teams search prof's home


nettime's_roving_reporter <nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net>
     hazmat teams search prof's home
"Sean Cubitt" <SEANC {AT} waikato.ac.nz>
     Steve Kurtz

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Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 12:07:19 -0400
From: nettime's_roving_reporter <nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net>
Subject: hazmat teams search prof's home

< http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20040514/1035251.asp >

   Hazmat teams search prof's home
   By T.J. PIGNATARO
   News Staff Reporter
   5/14/2004
   
   DEREK GEE/Buffalo News

   Agents with the FBI's hazardous-materials response unit remove
   suspicious biological material from a College Street home Thursday.
   
   An Allentown street was closed off for more than eight hours Thursday
   as hazardous-materials teams from the FBI searched a University at
   Buffalo art professor's home and seized suspected biological agents.
   
   The College Street home of Steven Kurtz, an artist and associate
   professor in UB's art department, aroused suspicions after Buffalo
   police went there about 1 p.m. Tuesday to investigate the death of
   Kurtz's wife, Zell, 45.
   
   Kurtz told dispatchers he found his wife unconscious and not breathing
   in bed. His wife was dead when emergency crews and police arrived.
   
   Authorities said they suspect the death had nothing to do with
   materials inside the house. It appears she died of heart failure,
   officials said.
   
   But what they found inside the house raised red flags, officials said.
   
   "The first responders noted what appeared to be hazardous materials
   inside," said Paul Moskal, special agent for the FBI.
   
   Moskal said they are unsure what the materials are but believe they
   are some type of biological agents or bacteria.
   
   The Joint Terrorism Task Force was contacted immediately.
   
   Kurtz told authorities the biological agents he was cultivating in the
   house were being used for his artwork and agreed to let authorities
   search the house.
   
   Wednesday evening, Kurtz was taken out to dinner by the FBI and put up
   in a hotel overnight. He has not been charged.
   
   "He's been cooperative and helpful to the investigation. He told us
   what he knew to be there and what we could expect to find there,"
   Moskal said.
   
   Federal authorities consulted with Erie County Medical Center, the
   state Department of Health, and FBI chemical and biological experts,
   and obtained a sealed search warrant for the house early Thursday
   morning. They began executing the warrant at about noon.
   
   College Street was cordoned off from Maryland to Allen streets as
   agents from the FBI's hazardous-materials teams from Pittsburgh and
   Quantico, Va., began their search. The agents wore white biohazard
   suits with masks, headgear and breathing devices, along with orange
   rubber boots, as they searched the house and collected material.
   
   Hazmat crews from the Buffalo Fire Department were stationed outside
   the house and helped decontaminate federal agents as they emerged.
   
   "Until they do the testing, they don't know what they have. We're
   handling this as the real thing until proven otherwise," said Maureen
   Dempsey, an FBI spokeswoman.
   
   "We don't believe it's anything that poses a danger outside of the
   house," Moskal said.
   
   One agent Kurtz is believed to use in his artwork is a strain of E.
   coli, according to a 2002 article published about the Critical Arts
   Ensemble, an artistic group that Kurtz helped found.
   
   Further investigation is continuing.
   
   Kurtz was not at the house Thursday evening. The FBI will await
   laboratory findings on the agents before deciding whether criminal
   charges will be levied. That could take a few days or up to several
   weeks.
   
   The search was called off for the night at about 8:30. A Buffalo
   police cruiser and officer kept watch over the scene overnight. Agents
   were expected to return and continue their search this morning.
   
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Subject: Steve Kurtz
Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 03:03:40 +1200
From: "Sean Cubitt" <SEANC {AT} waikato.ac.nz>

http://www.wben.com/newsroom/fullstory.php?newsid=01617
UPDATE: FBI, Hazmat Search Buffalo Home
WBEN Newsroom - Friday, May 14, 2004 07:22 AM 

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The FBI and Buffalo hazmat teams are searching a home in
Buffalo's Allentown section. The home belongs to a UB art professor.

Police say Steven Kurtz called police to the home yesterday after he found his
wife dead. Police believe Kurtz's wife died of natural causes, but police say
they spotted suspicious items in the home.

Paramedics who responded to the call about Kurtz's wife found items they
consisdered suspect and called the local anti-terrorism team, according to FBI
spokesman Paul Moskal. Moskal tells NewsRadio 930 WBEN that nearby residents
are not in any danger, and that Kurtz is cooperating with the investigation.

The hazmat team will be back at the Coellge Street house Friday

++++++++++
Steve Kurtz is a founder of Critical Art Ensemble
(http://www.critical-art.net/). The 'UB' mentioned in the story is University
of Buffalo, where he works.  Staying in Toronto currently, I caught the end of
a news item on the raid, during whicha reporter mentioned that suspicions were
raised by a link from Steve's website to 'The Cult of the New Eve'; while
neighbours were interviewed saying, more or less, that the raid was 9/11
homeland security overkill. The TV station's website has no mention of the
story (but is a rapid turnaround NBC subsidiary). Potentially it has all blown
over by now. And all of us who have admired Steve and CAE's work over the years
will extend our sympathies over the loss of his wife.  

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