Bomb hoax suspect charged in Fleetwood fire

By Adam Orr -

(File photo) Bobby Pennington

JEFFERSON-A man arrested last month following a rash of area bomb threats is now facing an additional felony charge.

That’s according to a press release issued this week by Ashe County Sheriff Terry Buchanan, who said Bobby Allen Pennington, 39, has been charged in connection with a recent fire reported in Fleetwood.

According to the release, a fire was reported at an uninhabited structure on May 28, 2017 in the 400 block of Mack Woodie Road in Fleetwood. The fire was quickly contained by Fleetwood firefighters, and the release said Pennington was later identified as the suspect by ACSO personnel.

Arrest warrants were issued against Pennington on Sept. 22, 2017. He was charged with felony burning of personal property and is currently being held at the Ashe County Detention Center under $159,000 bond.

Pennington has been in custody at the Ashe County Detention Center since Aug. 15, and was charged later that month in connection with a series of bomb threats that had first responders scrambling throughout the month of August.

West Jefferson Police Chief Jeff Rose said in August that Pennington had been charged with three counts of making false reports concerning a destructive device, making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property, resisting public officer and interfering with the duties of a fireman.

At least eight hoax bomb threat calls were phoned in to area locations earlier this month, including at least four made specifically against Walmart. The threats first began on Aug. 1, when first responders, rescue personnel and law enforcement dealt with two calls shortly after midnight. A caller phoned the store twice in quick succession and said that two explosive devices had been placed inside Walmart.

Both a cashier and the store manager said the caller had a deep voice, and “spoke in a methodical manner.” No evidence of any device was found during a subsequent search.

Then on Aug. 7, a caller indicated a bomb had been placed somewhere within the nearby rappelling tower at Ashe County High School before later calling Walmart to say a bomb had been placed inside the store.

According to a statement issued by the WJPD on Aug. 7, the department was dispatched to a smoke investigation in a lot next to Greenfield Campground early that morning.

“Upon arrival officers discovered a working fire in an uninhabited camper and requested West Jefferson Fire Department to respond,” according to the statement. “The fire was quickly extinguished. During the fire, Officers received another call regarding a bomb threat on the Ashe County High School property in the vicinity of the first responders. That scene was searched and secured with no devices found. A second bomb threat was then called into Walmart stating another bomb was in the store. The store was evacuated and searched and deemed safe to re-enter.”

Further threats were phoned at Walmart and other locations on Aug. 12 and 13, according to Rose. No explosive devices were ever found.

Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.

(File photo) Bobby Pennington photo) Bobby Pennington

By Adam Orr


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