WEST JEFFERSON-The West Jefferson Police Department is searching for leads after a bomb threat was twice called in to Walmart late Tuesday night.
That news comes from WJPD Chief Jeff Rose who said no one was injured following an hours long search for explosive devices that was launched after an apparent hoax was phoned in to the store shortly before midnight on Aug. 1.
Multiple local agencies, including the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Police Department, West Jefferson Fire Department and the Ashe County Rescue Squad descended on Walmart to deal with the threat after two store employees reported they’d been told by a caller that two bombs had been placed inside the store, one in a rear bathroom and a second in the store’s garden center.
Both a cashier and the store manager said the caller had a deep voice, and “spoke in a methodical manner.” Walmart’s on-site manager said during the second hoax that the caller told him the garden center device was rigged to explode in eight minutes.
Authorities were alerted and the store was cleared until the indicated time had passed.
According to the WJPD report, authorities then entered the store and searched for any evidence of a threat – they found none – and later allowed employees to return to work with the caveat that they should report any further suspicious activity.
It’s not the only time bomb threats have been made against Ashe County establishments. Walmart was evacuated at least once in 2016 after a threat was made against the local store.
Justin Paul Holdaway, Jamius Robert Wright and Dakota Scott Combs were also each charged last August in connection with a bomb threat that evacuated the Ashe County Courthouse on June 22, 2016.
Holdaway received a suspended sentence for his role in that hoax. He was sentenced to six to 17 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections, suspended for 12 months of supervised probation.
Combs was sentenced in March to six to 17 months active in the North Carolina Department of Corrections. Combs was facing a maximum sentence of 39 months behind bars.
Wright was convicted in his role in the false bomb threat case on Sept. 22, 2016, according to the N.C. Department of Corrections offender portal. Wright received probation and a suspended sentence in lieu of jail time.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-846-7164.