Questions linger about CofC bomb threat caller's motive

Questions linger about CofC bomb threat caller's motive

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - More than ten days after a caller threatened to blow up buildings and shoot people on the College of Charleston campus, leading to the evacuation of six buildings and a shutdown to a section of downtown Charleston, questions remain about the caller's motive.

The call came in to the Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch Center on the morning of Feb. 10. While what the caller said led to chaos on campus, the operator handling the threatening call was in the quiet calm of the dispatch center in North Charleston.

"The operator did an excellent job," Director Jim Lake said. There are scripted questions to ask, he says, when calls like this come in. The operators are trained to handle these calls. "So when a caller makes a statement, I'm going to blow up a building or shoot someone, the call taker goes into a different mode, a more friendly mode to make it more conversational so the caller will want to talk to them."

In the case of the College of Charleston caller, the operator kept him on the line nearly twice as long as a normal call and he opened up a bit, saying he had no friends.

"He talked about being rejected, friendless. They never invite me to do anything...kind of a desperate position for a human to be in because we are social beings," Psychologist Dr. Jerry White says.

White believes the caller is depressed and those feelings had probably been brewing. Possible triggers could have been the fraternity rush at the college which ended ten days earlier and mid-term exams approaching in about a week. More insight comes from the other bomb threat call the suspect made to the college, in which he eventually showed regret, saying he didn't want to get arrested.

White believes the caller is more of a threat to himself than to the community right now.

Investigators continue working to find him but won't tell us much about their progress. They won't say what leads, if any, have come from the release of the 911 calls, and won't say whether the caller's phone number showed up during the calls. Lake says if anyone attempts to block his phone number when calling 911, the number will appear anyway in the control center.

"Regarding this specific case I can't comment because it is an active and ongoing investigation, " Lake said.

But White says anyone who recognizes the caller's voice or situation should report it.

"There's treatment available," White says. "It can change his life and probably the lives of people around him who are concerned or worried about him."

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