The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

December 19, 2013

Sheriff: Bomb caller told girlfriend of threat before it happened

TANNER — Poor timing may have been the undoing of a Decatur man who allegedly telephoned a bomb threat Wednesday to the Limestone County steel plant where he worked.

The accused, James David Sanford, 32, of 1709 Beech St., sent a text message to his girlfriend at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday saying he was heading back home from his contractor job at Carpenter Technology because of a bomb threat at the plant on U.S. 31, Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said. That was problematic since the bomb threat wasn’t phoned in until 45 minutes later — at 9:15 a.m., the sheriff said.

Blakely’s investigators were unable to determine the owner of the phone that was allegedly used to issue the bomb threat because the caller used an inexpensive prepaid wireless cellphone. However, investigators were able to track the signal of the phone, which Sanford was still using, the sheriff said. He was finally located about 7 p.m. Wednesday at his girlfriend's house on Beech Street in southwest Decatur and arrested on a charge of making a terrorist threat, Blakely said.

Investigators asked Sanford why he allegedly made the bomb threat.

“He didn’t know why he did it, but he had taken Monday and Tuesday off and there was some indication that he wanted to take Wednesday off without his girlfriend getting upset,” the sheriff said.

If convicted of the charge, Sanford faces a minimum sentence of a year and a day in jail to a maximum of 10 years in jail, plus applicable fines, Blakely said.

Sanford remained in the Limestone County Jail Thursday evening, with bail set at $10,000. He also has an outstanding warrant from Tuscaloosa County.

No longer a misdemeanor

In years past, phoning in a bomb threat was a misdemeanor in Alabama. That changed when the state Legislature made the act a Class C felony, Blakely said.

The law change was a good one, the sheriff said, because a bomb threat is not only frightening, it is expensive.

Carpenter Technology had to evacuate 350 to 400 workers Wednesday because of the stunt.

The company sent workers home Tuesday because of another bomb threat about 2:30 p.m. Sanford is not charged in that incident.

Add to that, the cost of overtime paid to sheriff’s department employees who worked late Wednesday trying to track the caller, Blakely said.


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