By Tamas Mondovics
It was law enforcement and news media frenzy as dozens of reports of emailed bomb threats to businesses, universities, and newspapers hit across the country last week. From New York to Los Angeles, even the small town of Mountain City TN, made the roster of locations affected where multiple threats were reported to police, in many cases asking for “bitcoin payment” although no devices had been found.
Johnson County and Mountain City law enforcement officials along with agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) showed up in force, quickly responding to the Johnson County Counseling Center located at 318 Donnelly Street in Mountain City after employees noticed the threat at around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 13, via email.
Moments upon his arrival at the scene Church initially said, “The threat revealed that the bomb may not bring down the building, but would cause injury to those inside.”
Police officers and deputies evacuated the building and immediate area. Mountain City Elementary School, just across the street went on a soft lockdown working with parents to organize a modified dismissal of the students. After nearly a three-hour wait, at around 4:45 pm, and with the assistance of a bomb-sniffing dog from the Johnson City Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church and Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester confirmed that the building and surrounding area had been cleared.
“Thankfully, no explosives were found inside and or around the building,” Church said. “The dog can go through the building in just a few minutes,” he said. “If we find something we will be here all night.”
Fortunately, the outcome was similar to all of the reported cases of bomb threats across the country. No motive has been identified yet, other than the opinion that the threats were financially motivated. While the investigation continues the incident was a sobering reminder of the state of the world, the constant need to be vigilant and the appropriate thanks for the hardworking deputies and officers as they daily put their lives on the line to serve and protect.