by Paul Bowers
Morris Brown AME Church received two bomb threats in the two days after the June 17 mass shooting at nearby Emanuel AME Church, according to Charleston Police Department reports.
CPD spokesman Charles Francis said that authorities had identified a juvenile suspect from out of state who is suspected of making both bomb threats, but he was unable to say whether the suspect had been detained. Francis directed further questions to the FBI office in Columbia, where a spokesman said he was unable to provide any further information.
The first bomb threat, which has previously been reported, took place on Thurs. June 18 at about 1:45 p.m. Morris Brown AME, which is about six blocks away from Emanuel AME, had hosted a community vigil at noon that day in memory of the shooting victims, and a crowd of hundreds had spilled out into the street. The report states, "Just as the service was concluding, CPD dispatch received a call in which the caller advised of a bomb placed within the church." The caller said his brother had placed the bomb in the church, according to the report.
Officers evacuated people from the church and the surrounding area before checking the building and finding no explosives on the property. According to the report, dispatchers said over the police radio that the call had come from the county jail.
The incident report notes that "a similar threat was called in the night prior" while officers were investigating the Emanuel AME shooting. As law enforcement officers were investigating the crime scene at Emanuel AME on the night of Wed. June 17, police received a bomb threat. Francis says police wrote a supplemental report about the Wednesday night bomb threat, but it has not yet been released. "It was a bomb threat to the area. It wasn't a bomb threat to the church," Francis says.
The second bomb threat against Morris Brown AME came in on Fri. June 19 at about 6:20 p.m. According to an incident report, the caller said a bomb had been placed near the podium at the front of the church. Police evacuated the church again, searched the building with a K9 unit, and found no explosives.
The Rev. Charles R. Watkins Jr., pastor at Morris Brown AME Church, is out of town at a church conference this week and has not responded to a request for comment.