Bluefield man arrested following fake bombs


BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Authorities arrested a Bluefield man on Monday after he allegedly placed two fake explosive devices within the city.

James Fowler, 50, faces two charges of possession or use of hoax bomb in the commission of a felony, one count of false reports concerning bombs and explosive devices, and two counts of threats of terrorist act. Each charge is a felony.

James Fowler (West Virginia Regional Jail Authority)

According to Bluefield Police Department Chief Dennis Dillow, Fowler walked into the Elizabeth Kee Federal Building with the insistence of seeing a federal agent. Officers found Fowler with a black bag, which he stated contained an explosive device.

Officers evacuated the area surrounding the building as a precaution.

Dillow said they learned Fowler hid a similar device at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Washington Street. According to Dillow, Fowler lives on the street. Authorities later evacuated Fowler’s apartment complex as a precaution; they did not find any explosive devices at the residence.

The West Virginia State Police bomb squad dismantled the devices.

“I can’t stress enough all of the cooperation from everyone around,” Dillow said. “We were able to do our jobs without incident, and everything turned out the best it possibly could.”

Dillow said the department had previous encounters with Fowler. He added officers do not know Fowler’s motive.

“I’m sure a mental hygiene [evaluation] is in his future,” he said. “He was demanding to speak with someone about national security, and he claimed he had an explosive device.”

Fowler was transported to the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.