The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

September 11, 2012

Police: School bomb threat tied to bank extortion attempt in Miami

MIAMI, Okla. — A 24-year-old man is in custody after allegedly placing calls today creating a bomb scare at the high school in Miami, Okla., and attempting to extort money from a local bank.

The bomb threat was made in a cellphone call to the 911 dispatch center in Miami at 11:19 a.m. today, according to Miami police Chief George Haralson. The caller said police had 20 minutes to find the bomb at Miami High School. That prompted school officials to order students and staff to leave the building.

Haralson said that while police were conducting a walk-through search of the high school and tracing the call to an area behind a church in the 2500 block of North Main Street, two more calls were placed to the Welch State Bank. In each call, a man threatened to blow up the school if the bank did not provide him with a large sum of money.

Those calls were later determined to have been placed from a pay phone at the Wal-Mart store on the other side of the church. The initial call is believed to have been made on a cellphone that was found with a backpack behind the church. A suspect, Bobby Harris, 24, was taken into custody near the church a short time later.

Bomb squads from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Tulsa Police Department arrived in Miami about the time that Harris was taken into custody. Although he reportedly told police that the threat was a hoax, the squads used explosives-sniffing dogs to determine that there was no bpmb on school premises.

 

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