Man arrested for planting fake bombs at West Virginia courthouse, church

A man was charged with making terroristic threats after he stirred up a West Virginia town by planting fake bombs at a federal courthouse and church.

The cops detonated one of the phony bombs at Elizabeth Kee Federal Building in Bluefield, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported.  

Fake bomb scare

James Dean Fowler, 50, had entered the building with a bag that he said contained a bomb and asked to speak with a federal agent about a “threat” to the building, Bluefield Police Chief Dennis Dillow said.

A criminal complaint said that Fowler also carried a box cutter and wore “body armor” made of magazines taped to his body.

Police arrived around 8:46 a.m. and arrested Fowler at the scene. A bomb squad came shortly afterward and destroyed the device Fowler was carrying in a controlled explosion. Turns out, it wasn’t actually a bomb.

Fowler tipped the police off to another phony bomb that was found in the bushes outside of a nearby church, but police decided it didn’t need to be destroyed after analyzing it with an X-ray. The scare led to an evacuation in the area and streets being blocked off for the day.

Police also searched Fowler’s apartment but found nothing there.

Suspect has mental illness

He was charged with two counts of possession or use of a hoax bomb in the commission of a felony, one count of false reports concerning bombs or explosive devices, and two counts of threats of terrorist acts.

At an arraignment Monday, Fowler was ordered held on $500,000 bond.

Fowler was interviewed by the FBI and was thought “to suffer from some form of mental disease,” a criminal complaint said.

The suspect was known to police, but not “concerning these types of events,” Dillow said.

“We were lucky these turned out to be hoax devices,” Dillow said.

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