AUGUSTA — City Center reopened Monday morning following a Friday incident in which an angry man slammed a cup full of roughly 100 bedbugs onto a counter in the General Assistance office, releasing the live pests.

That office, as well as other areas of the building including the entire hallway on both floors, were sprayed with bedbug-killing chemicals by a pest control company Friday.

However, initial plans to have a bedbug-detecting dog check City Center before opening to the public Monday morning were thwarted because the dog can’t sniff for bedbugs so soon after pesticides have been applied. Matt Nazar, city development director, said inspecting a facility that had been sprayed recently would affect the dog’s ability to smell. He said the dog will likely be brought in next week, to make sure there are no longer any bedbugs at City Center.

He said city officials and a pest control contractor expressed confidence they have removed, and/or killed, all of the bedbugs released after the man slammed the cupful of bedbugs he’d collected at his previous apartment down onto the counter in the General Assistance office, releasing all the bugs into the office space.

“The area where the bugs were released has no carpet, it’s all hard tiles and hard surfaces, so there are no places for bedbugs to hide easily,” Nazar said. “We strongly suspect we were able to contain the potential problem, by moving so rapidly and scooping the bugs up and into plastic trash bags as soon as possible. The pest control company is fairly confident, based on what they could see, that they got everything.”

City Manager William Bridgeo said city officials decided to close the building Friday as a precaution against the presence of bedbugs spreading. He estimated more than 100 bedbugs were released in the incident, the entire contents of the cup of bedbugs the man had with him Friday.


Nazar said the man, whose name officials have not released, came to City Center multiple times Friday, releasing the bugs on his final visit that afternoon.

He said the first time the man had apparently come to complain to the city about bedbugs in his former Court Street apartment. Nazar said that’s where the bugs in the cup came from. Nazar said the man was “very quickly” escorted out of the building when city staff realized he had a cupful of bedbugs with him.

Nazar said a city code enforcement officer contacted the man’s landlord who said the man’s apartment was being treated by a pesticide company, that day, for bedbugs.

Nazar said city staff contacted the landlord of a building where the man had secured a new apartment, to inform the landlord the man was coming from a building where there were bedbugs.

The man later returned to City Center Friday seeking General Assistance’s help in securing a new place to live. However, Bridgeo said the man didn’t qualify for General Assistance because he had other income sources.

Upon learning he didn’t qualify for General Assistance, Bridgeo said, the man pulled out the cupful of bedbugs and slammed them on the counter, releasing them in the office.


“He told police he wanted them to experience the same thing he was experiencing,” Nazar said of why the man told police he’d dumped the bugs in the office. “Frankly, the General Assistance office has nothing to do with bedbugs. It’s an extraordinary bit of misdirected anger.”

Police stopped the man outside City Center but did not arrest him. Lt. Christopher Read said Monday police are not releasing information about the case because it is still under investigation and police are not sure if any charges will be filed against him, or not.

Bedbugs have been a persistent problem in some buildings in the city, and they have been found in the city’s General Assistance office previously. The bugs are brown, flat and about a quarter-inch long, with a soft, rounded look. After a blood meal, they are dark red and larger. They feed on human blood but are not believed to carry disease.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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