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Cyber bomb threat under police scrutiny

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Cyber bomb threat under police scrutiny

BEEVILLE – An online bomb threat shut down a pawnshop Sunday afternoon, Oct. 14.

“Apparently they posted it on Topix,” said Police Chief Robert Bridge. “This is a crime and we are actively pursuing this investigation.”

A Nueces County explosive and ordinance canine was called in to search the building for anything dangerous. Bridge said that no bomb was found inside the building.

“It created an emergency,” he said of the four-hour event.

Threats like this are made online because people often feel braver posting anonymously on social media over live interactions.

“They talk bad about everybody without repercussions,” Bridge said.

This can be seen on the social media forum Topix, which is part of a larger news aggregate and social forum owned by a group at least partially in California.

The forum allows people to post comments and statements after a registration which doesn’t confirm their identify, only the information they provide.

Bridge said investigators are now working to determine who was behind the threat.

“I believe that individuals believe they can say whatever they want to because it is an anonymous format,” he said.

In this case, it was an off-duty officer who saw the post and called an officer here to report it.

“They made threats against a specific individual,” Bridge said of the post which is not showing on the site now. “It was a threat of serious bodily injury.”

Officers arrived shortly after noon at Easy Pawn, located across the street from H-E-B, and they evacuated the building.

“We are already conducting an investigation into the person who might have posted it.”

While those familiar with Topix will wonder why credence was given to the threat, Bridge said it was not something that officers could overlook.

“We cannot assume it is a joke,” he said. “More than likely it was not true, but you cannot take chances like that.”

Bridge knows that identifying the culprit in this case could be difficult.

“We will see how sophisticated this situation is,” he said. “I don’t want to make promises.”

The chief added that the charges here could be a felony depending on how the case unfolds.

While freedom of speech allows for people to voice their opinions, it does come with limitations.

“When you start making threats or causing emergency reactions, then it turns into a crime,” Bridge said.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at media@mySouTex.com.

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