Another bomb scare

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kenneth Brasell was greeted by this envelope when he arrived at his service station Friday morning.

By John Howell
Area law enforcement personnel late Sunday afternoon were scrambled in response to a bomb scare for the second time in three days after a telephone caller claimed to have placed a bomb in the Batesville Wal-Mart.
Batesville Police Detective Jeremiah Brown said that the store received the call about 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Wal-Mart employees immediately announced a “Code Blue” which included the building’s immediate evacuation of employees and customers.
As Batesville police, deputies from the Panola County Sheriff’s Department and state troopers arrived, law enforcement officials accompanied by store employees re-entered the store and made a visual search of the premises, Police Chief Tony Jones said.
After about 50 minutes of thorough searching, store officials made the decision to reopen the store, Jones said.
The Wal-Mart incident Sunday afternoon followed Friday’s search of banks in Panola County that was triggered when Kenneth Brasell found a bizarre bomb threat note affixed with duct tape to the front door of his service station on Highway 35 South.
“DELIVER TO POLICE OR DIE,” was written on the outside of an envelope Brasell found. It contained a two pages, handwritten in all capital letters, claiming that a bomb timed to explode by Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. had been placed in a bank.
“It will be up to you to find out which bank the bank the bomb is in,” the noted stated.
Police from the Southaven, Hernando and Tupelo Police Departments, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Shelby County, Tennessee responded to city and county requests to bring bomb-sniffing dogs to search local banking facilities.
“Everybody has really worked well with us,” Panola Sheriff Hugh “Shot” Bright said.
Officers and dogs began searching late Friday morning at Covenant, Bancorp South and Renasant Banks, all of which had delayed opening until their facilities could be cleared. The searches were expected to be expanded first to other banks in the city and then to banks in other Panola County municipalities, the sheriff said.
Other agencies cooperating include the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the Homeland Security Agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Law enforcement personnel initially searched the banks without the aid of dogs and as they awaited in Batesville Police Department offices the arrival of the bomb detection animal, they expressed hope that it would turn out to be a hoax and speculated over the note’s placement and contents.
Bright said that the note writer probably chose the service station because of surveillance cameras that surround banking institutions.
After officers and dogs had searched the county’s 15 banks, they also searched the Tri-Lakes Medical Center since the note also threatened doctors and hospitals.
The note’s contents contained other details which law enforcement hoped would lead to its writer. It is reproduced in its entirety, with some punctuation added, as follows:
“There is a bomb in a bank. It will be up to you the police to find out which bank the bank the bomb is in. You have until 1-07-09 p.m. before the bomb explode. There reason I am doing this the bank turn down my loan and my wife died and everyone will pay. I want dozens of homes to suffer. I hate bankers doctor polices. I hate people. I love terror. You all will pay first the banks then the hospitals. There will be lots of dead peoples.
“Maybe the bomb will go off today at 2 p.m. Only I know. I have waited two years for revenge. Its pay back time. Want to see how good BPD is. The clock is ticking. Tic Toc. Anyone can build a bomb. You only need direction. Let the game begin. Its up to you to save lives.”

Officers seeking help in their investigation are asking that anyone who knows of someone who fits the circumstances in the note — bank loan rejection, death of wife two years ago, probably with intense and unsatisfactory interaction with doctors and hospitals — to please contact Batesville Police Chief Tony Jones, 563-5653 or Panola County Sheriff Hugh “Shot” Bright, 563-6230.
Wal-Mart phone records will be subpoenaed in an attempt to locate the phone from which Sunday’s threat was called in, Jones said.
“We will do everything we can to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” the police chief added.
“It’s a terrorist threat, Detective Brown added. “It’s a federal offense under (the) Homeland Security (Act).

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