Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 29, 2013

Stevens Correctional Center: Bomb threat evacuates 400 inmates

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

WELCH — The West Virginia State Police responded Sunday morning to a report of a bomb threat that was called into Stevens Correctional Center in Welch, according to Trooper J.K. Weiss of the Welch Detachment of the West Virginia State Police.

“Correctional officers at Stevens Correctional Center received a call at 10:15 (Sunday) morning,” Weiss said. “A female caller told the CO, ‘There’s two bombs on your premises,’” Weiss said. “When the CO asked the caller to tell him the telephone number she was calling from, she said: ‘Hell no,’ and hung up the phone.”

Weiss said that he responded with Trooper J.R. Coburn, also of the Welch Detachment. “At first, we just had just a couple of troopers and a couple of correctional officers in a back lot with 400 inmates,” Weiss said. “About everyone in the county came out to help. We had deputies from the Sheriff’s office, officers from the Welch Police Department and emergency services personnel with us. There was great cooperation from all officers at the scene.”

Sgt. C.F. Kane, detachment commander, and Sgt. J.S. McCarty, assistant commander of the Welch Detachment, responded to the incident. First Sgt. Robert Medford, from Charleston and his bomb-detecting K-9, Nitro, responded to the scene and did a sweep of the interior of the facility as well as the outside of the facility, according to Weiss. After the sweep, the inmates re-entered the facility. The troopers were back in the detachment at about 3 p.m.

“Frontier Communications is tracing the number that placed the call,” Weiss said. “Stevens Correctional Center personnel can trace outgoing calls to determine if any inmate has been in contact with the person who called in the threat. We considered this a very serious threat.”

In addition to the McDowell County troopers, at least one other trooper from the Princeton Detachment responded to the incident.

Weiss expressed his appreciation to all the agencies who assisted during the incident. “We established a command center on site and responders helped out by bringing us food,” Weiss said. “Everyone worked well together to get through this situation.”

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com