JEFFERSON-Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said Wednesday he’s now offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the callers that threatened the Ashe County Courthouse last month.
That news comes two weeks after a bomb threat forced the evacuation of the courthouse on June 22.
Williams said tipsters can contact the ACSO at 336-846-5600 or remain anonymous by calling the Crime Stoppers Line at 336-846-4188.
Williams said last month the threat that cleared the courthouse was received by phone and was initially reported to 911 dispatch at 11 a.m. on June 22, and was quickly followed by two additional mobile calls that Williams believe originated within the same vehicle.
“On the first call we couldn’t hear anything,” said Williams. “On the second call, it sounded garbled like someone was driving down the road with the phone out the window like they were trying to mask their voice. It was a female who said she heard two guys talking about planting a pipe bomb in the court house.”
A short time later, authorities received a call from a male saying there was a bomb in court house.
“At the time, we decided out of abundance of caution to search the court house,” said Williams. “Of course, we found nothing.”
Altogether, it took authorities approximately an hour to clear the entire building. Williams said he assigned a specified number of officers to search each floor.
Although the threat turned out to be a false alarm, Williams said it was very costly for volunteer personnel who had to take time out of their day. He said the hoax also diverted vital rescue staff and resources from other parts of the county. Ultimately, he said authorities are lucky that no one lost their lives as rescue crews tended to the matter.
“It was very costly,” Williams said of the incident. “It’s not a joke. It’s not funny. If we find out who it is, it will be a bad day for them. We will turn over every stone to find out who they are.”
That bomb threat was not a first for Williams.
While police chief at the West Jefferson Police Department, he said his office had to evacuate Walmart twice for such a threat.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.