Bomb threat calls are no joking matter
A bomb threat is defined as a threat to detonate an explosive device to cause damage, death, or injuries
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Two bomb threats in three days created tension in Columbus, and had Columbus police working overtime; both turned out to be false alarms. A bomb threat is defined as a threat to detonate an explosive device to cause damage, death, or injuries. The threat is taken serious until proven otherwise.
On Saturday, December 4, 2021, a Columbus Walmart employee saw a suspicious package outside of the store. It was called in as a possible bomb. When law enforcement arrived they quickly realized that wasn’t the case. On Monday December 6, 2021 a threat was called in to Domino’s Pizza on Main Street in Columbus. A 12 -year-old from Macon is accused of making that threat.
“His case will be turned over to the youth court and the youth court will do whatever punishment or disciplinary action they think is appropriate for him and his age. Of course if it were an adult they would have been processed as an adult and put in Lowndes County jail,” said police chief Fred Shelton.
Shelton was just one of many on scene for both incidents. A fake bomb threat call is a federal offense and can lead to time in prison. Shelton and Lowndes County EMA director Cindy Lawrence said it all begins with the initial call dispatchers get.
“They have questions that they try to ask the caller to try and get as much information from the caller as possible regarding a bomb threat. Now if it’s called into an agency we try to get as much information that called from the agency such as Walmart and the manager called us we wonder who called,” said Lawrence.
Those fake calls require real resources to investigate; which includes getting first responders on scene, bomb dogs, and more.
“When I get the call I have to call the state, the state is going to call the FBI, they’re going to call homeland security, the department of public safety and other agencies to put them on standby in case we need it here locally in Lowndes County,” said Lawrence.
Once officials get to the site it’s all about safety.
“Make sure everybody is safe make sure there is nobody left in the building and make sure there is what is called a buffer zone that if an explosive device did go off people would far enough where they wouldn’t get hurt,” said Shelton.
Advanced technology helps trace the caller; so when the call is made and is confirmed to be fake, consequences will follow.
“At the end of the day someone will be arrested and we’re hoping that when that person is arrested they’ll be prosecuted and they’ll serve some jail time because if you can pick up a phone and call 911 or call agency and say there’s a bomb threat and then hang up. We’re going to find you,” said Lawrence.
Shelton and Lawrence encourage people to only call 911 for emergencies especially in the case of a bomb threat.