Birmingham, Alabama – A couple planted a fake bomb at an elementary school in an effort to lure police officers to the scene so they could shoot them. An alternate plan was to rob a bank while police were busy with the fake explosive device.
The fake bomb was located outside Magnolia Elementary School in Trussville, which is a suburb of Birmingham. The device only contained modeling clay, a timer, and gunpowder, but no detonator. The FBI and ATF responded to the call, along with local authorities, and detonated the device after an examination of it.
Zachary Edwards, 35, and Raphel Dilligard, 34, are charged with making terroristic threats, possessing a fake destructive device, and creating a false alarm.
CAPTURED: Suspects wanted in Alabama elementary school bomb threat incident on Nov. 16 have been apprehended by ATF & partners. pic.twitter.com/kqG22zy4q7
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) November 23, 2016
“It looked real enough that it concerned us,” Bridges said in an interview.
Arrested afterward, the couple told investigators what they had planned, according to Bridges. The couple, who share an address, wanted to shoot officers at the school or rob a bank while police were busy dealing with the bogus bomb, he said.
Authorities determined that a stopwatch used as a timer in the fake bomb was sold at Walmart and they began searching stores where it may have been purchased. Authorities said that search led to video surveillance images of Dilligard and, in turn, Edwards.
Distraction: a real problem for police
In 1986, a splinter faction of The Order, a white supremacist group, set off four bombs in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to cover up a bank robbery. It was total chaos – fortunately bank robbery was the aim, not killing the police. With the number of police, fire, ATF, and FBI that responded, it could have killed dozens. Coeur d’Alene was lucky.
Trussville, Alabama was also lucky- lucky that the perpetrators couldn’t manufacture the device they wanted to, and lucky that they were caught before a carnage.