A couple with claimed ties to the New Black Panther Party has been charged for threatening a Birmingham elementary school with a hoax explosive device and threatening to kill police officers with the hope of starting a race war.
Convicted felon Zachary Edwards, 35, and Raphel Dilligard, 34, are facing charges for possession of a hoax destructive device, rendering a false alarm, and making terrorist threats, according to AL.com.
Magnolia Elementary School employees became panicked on November 16 after eyewitnesses called the police and said they had seen a man place a box on a school cafeteria employee’s truck. The box reportedly resembled an explosive with wires and a timer.
Dave Hyche with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the device did not put any students or faculty members in danger because it was malfunctioning and on the far-side of the school.
“When we first saw what we had, we knew this was something to take serious and we put on the full-court press. It disturbed us from the start,” Hyche told AL.com. “I’ve never seen such a well-orchestrated and rapid response.”
Upon further investigation, police discovered that the 911 call about the explosive was actually placed by Edwards, who has repeatedly claimed to have ties to the New Black Panther Party.
Once Edwards and Dilligard were seen on surveillance footage purchasing the timer, watch, and other components for the hoax explosive, they were brought in by police.
Edwards told detectives that his plan was to get all police officers and law enforcement officials in one area, near the site of the hoax explosive, so he could then shoot them to death.
“Probably because of the overwhelming response to the area,” Hyche told AL.com. “He wanted everybody in one place so he could kill cops. He made it clear to our guys he wanted to commit acts of violence. This arrest probably did stop something bad from happening.”
Additionally, Edwards told police he wanted as many law enforcement officials to be honed in on the hoax explosive so he could commit various other crimes in the area, like robbing a bank.
Edwards has a lengthy criminal record, dating back to a 2000 conviction for second degree assault, which he served three years behind bars for.
Edwards and Dilligard are in police custody as the investigation continues. The two could face federal charges as well.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.