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Northern Michigan hospital, winery threats originated in Russia

Northern Michigan hospital threat originated in Russia.

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- A bomb threat at a hospital in Sault Ste Marie is believed to have originated from Russia.

Sault Ste Marie Police were called to War Memorial Hospital about an bomb threat that was emailed to the hospital around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

"You see these things take place in other places and of course you always want to make sure everyone is safe," said Teresa Dwyer-Armstrong the Director of Community Relations at War Memorial Hospital.

Hospital staff wasted no time contacting law enforcement and they also notified the public on Facebook.

"They did go through with a bomb dog and they've cleared patient areas. They have determined that the credibility of the threat is low but as I mentioned patient safety and employees and our community is our top priority and so law enforcement is assisting us," said Dwyer-Armstrong.

After investigating, law enforcement deemed the threat as not credible.

Brian Howell, the Technology Director at War Memorial Hospital says he was able to trace the threat back to Russia by looking at the domain and header in the email.

He says the hospital has firewalls in place but it's still difficult to keep some of these emails from coming through.

"I can block an address but unfortunately these attackers, they know several different ways to get around. If you just block their domain names and they just grab another one and try to start sending with a different one so it's a challenge," said Howell.

Several similar threats have been made to hospitals throughout Michigan in the past few days, officers said.

Dianne Michalek, a spokesperson for Munson Healthcare and Munson Medical Center says none of Munson's hospitals have received threats but they did get a notification from the Michigan State Police about the threats.

"We work very closely with local law enforcement and state law enforcement to ensure that we're taking the proper precautions and we'll continue to do that to keep both our patients and our employees safe," said Michalek.

Both Michalek and Howell say informing hospital staff about what to do if they receive an email with a threat is critical.

"The best way is to educate employees to try and recognize a spam or a ransomware type email and not be clicking a link in emails that you do not recognize the sender from," said Howell.

The streets around War Memorial Hospital reopened around 2:50 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Hospitals in Northern Michigan weren't the only ones to receive emails with threats.

Black Star Farms in Leelanau County also received a bomb threat related to the nationwide incident Thursday.

Sheriff's deputies and Michigan State Police evacuated the winery around 3 p.m. as a precaution.

Michigan State Police are now handling the case.

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