CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A recent rise in bomb threats reported across Cullman County over the last few weeks has been linked to a scheme involving teenagers across five states, the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office reports.
In a press conference held Tuesday morning, Sheriff Matt Gentry revealed more information into the investigation that began on Sept. 2 after a bomb threat was called at Cullman High School. Over the next six days, five more threats had been falsely called in at Cullman Middle School, West Point High School, West Point Middle School, and the Cullman County Courthouse.
“Our children are our most precious resource and for someone to do this, to put fear in the hearts of children, teachers, mothers, fathers, grandparents. To me it’s unspeakable,” Gentry said.
Another threat was called in Sept. 4, claiming that someone had killed their wife and was prepared to have a standoff with law enforcement. Once officials arrived on the scene, they discovered it was also a false report.
Gentry said CCSO believed the incidents to be related and began investigating. A teenager was later identified as being involved in making the calls and was taken into custody. Police discovered that the teen was working with others in four other states as part of a “swatting” plot involving prank calling emergency services in an attempt to bring a large group of armed police officers to a particular place. Gentry said the goal of the group was to record law enforcement as they arrived.
No injuries or deaths had been reported in any of the bomb threats.
CCSO is working with several law enforcement agencies in other states where this has happened. Several arrests have been made with others pending.
According to Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock, the teen arrested in Cullman County will be charged with making terroristic threats and soliciting an act of terrorism.
During the press conference, officials called on parents to keep track of what their children are doing to prevent crimes like these from happening.
“This can be one of the most dangerous things in the world today, that’s a cell phone,” Gentry said. “We really have to go above and beyond to ensure what our children are doing through social media to protect them. If you do that, it keeps you from this situation.”