Charges dropped against ‘Hash House Harriers’
NEW HAVEN, Conn. ” Charges have been dropped against two siblings who inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare when they sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club.
New Haven ophthalmologist Daniel Salchow, 36, and his sister, Dorothee, 31, who was visiting from Hamburg, Germany, had been charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony.
The charges were dropped Thursday after Daniel Salchow agreed he and his sister would donate $4,000 to local charities. Prosecutors could reopen the case if the Salchows do the same thing again in the next 13 months.
Dorothee has returned to Germany and prosecutors agreed not to require her to appear in court.
The siblings set off the scare while organizing a run for a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, a worldwide group that bills itself as a “drinking club with a running problem.”
“Hares” are given the task of marking a trail to direct runners, throwing in some dead ends and forks as challenges. In August, the Salchows decided to route runners through an IKEA furniture store parking lot.
Police fielded a call that someone was sprinkling powder on the ground. The store was evacuated and remained closed the rest of the night. The incident prompted a massive response from police in New Haven and surrounding towns.
Daniel Salchow biked back to IKEA when he heard there was a problem and told officers the powder was just flour, which he said he and his sister have sprinkled everywhere from New York to California without incident.
Daniel Salchow and his attorney, Michael Jefferson, said they were pleased with the resolution but still believe authorities overreacted.
“We felt all along it was an innocent activity,” Jefferson said.
Many fellow runners sent letters of protest over the Salchows’ arrest, but New Haven officials maintain their response was warranted.
Prosecutor Marc Ramia said in court Thursday that spreading such material “creates a dangerous situation for the public, who are not aware of what the substance is.”