Columbia man pleads guilty to hoax bomb threat
Caused lock-down of Columbia Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Karry Max Taylor, III, 21, of Columbia plead guilty in federal court Wednesday to making a hoax bomb threat, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Beth Drake.
Senior U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie accepted the plea and will impose a sentence after she has reviewed the pre-sentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented in court established that on Jan. 4, 2016, three individuals — two in South Carolina and one in New York — each received a text message from an unknown South Carolina telephone number advising them that someone had placed a bomb in the parking lot of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Garners Ferry Road in Columbia.
One of the texts stated, “Hey Montana, this is Sosa. Omar said he put a bomb in the parking lot or something…in the VA hospital on Garners Ferry Road. I am scared and I don’t know what to do.”
The three individuals each notified law enforcement authorities, who were able to discern that the texts were referring to the VA hospital. As a result, the Columbia Police Department, the Columbia Fire Department, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Police Department responded and placed the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in lock-down and swept the parking area for explosives.
Law enforcement was on the scene for three hours and ultimately determined that the texts were a hoax after no explosive was located. After further investigation, the FBI was able to link the texts back to a cell phone and email account belonging to Taylor.
Agents approached Taylor, a volunteer with the Columbia Fire Department, and he admitted to sending the texts to random numbers in an effort to draw other fire engines to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in hopes that his fire station would then be called to respond to any other calls that occurred during that time frame.
Taylor now faces a maximum of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, in addition to three years of supervised release. The statute also requires that Taylor reimburse the state and local agencies who responded to the incident.