Bomb Threat Arrest

Meridian police have made another arrest involving a bomb threat to a local school.

However, unlike in the past, this time the accused is not a student, but instead a grown man. Meridian Public School officials are calling it disturbing.

"Usually we deal with students, but now we're talking about an adult that could have grandchildren. This causes a great deal of frustration," said Meridian Public School safety director, Dr. Sam Thompson.

Thompson is talking about the arrest of 61-year-old Richard Wayne Smith. He is charged with calling in a false bomb threat to T.J. Harris Upper Elementary last Thursday afternoon. After a 30-minute evacuation and thorough search of the campus, nothing was found.

Police traced the call back to a pay phone at a convenience store on the corner of 20th Street Extension and 45th. Avenue. A day after making the call, the suspect was arrested Friday morning at the store.

Investigators said Smith is not an employee at the store. However, they said it was witness accounts that led to his arrest.

"This individual obviously wasn't trying to get out of a class or test. We would be hesitant to discuss motive at this point. The investigation is still ongoing," said Chief Benny Dubose of the Meridian Police Department.

Although a motive is yet to be confirmed, the school employee who answered the call told NewsCenter 11 that the suspect used a racial slur.

According to investigators, Smith did not have a previous record. He has since been released from jail on $10,000 bond. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.

So far this school year, six bomb threats have been made to schools within the Meridian Public School District. Arrests have been made in at least three of those cases.


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