Inside the FBI: Volunteer Firefighter Sentenced for Making Hoax Bomb Threat

May 23, 2018

It’s an FBI case that shows why fake threats can result in real consequences. Making false threats is not a joke. Think before you post.

Audio Transcript

Mollie Halpern: It’s an FBI case that shows why fake threats can result in real consequences. I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau taking you Inside the FBI.

Karry Max Taylor, then a volunteer firefighter, was having a slow day on his shift at a fire station in Columbia, South Carolina, back in January 2016.

Using a friend’s phone and a text application that enabled him to conceal his identity, case agent Matthew Desmond says Taylor …

Matthew Desmond: … devised a scheme where he sent out anonymous text messages to people he didn’t know with a story that there had been a bomb placed at the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia.

Halpern: At least three people—one in North Carolina, another in South Carolina, and a third in New York City—received the texts and notified either the FBI or local police.

Columbia and Veterans Affairs police and the city’s firefighters placed the hospital in lockdown while they searched the parking area.

After three hours, they found nothing.

Agent Desmond was also on scene, and he began working with tech companies to determine who was behind the texts.

Desmond: Throughout the investigation, we had relied on information from Internet service providers and the text application provider. We served numerous subpoenas in the court process in order to obtain information regarding the subscribers so that we could identify the subject.

Halpern: Any communication threatening people at hospitals, schools, or other public places is a serious crime that carries an up to five-year prison sentence.

The investigation revealed that Karry Max Taylor was responsible for the crime.

During an interview with the FBI, Taylor confessed to the hoax, saying he had hoped his station would be called for a real emergency while the main crews were busy responding to his threat.

Desmond: This was clearly self-motivated and thought-out and planned in his mind. He wanted to help himself or the other volunteers get experience by working calls.

Halpern: Taylor used valuable police and fire resources for his own benefit.

Had there been an actual emergency elsewhere while responders were tied up with Taylor’s false threat, the consequences could have been catastrophic.

Desmond says Taylor didn’t realize the severity of the hoax bomb threat until it was explained to him.

Desmond: He didn’t think about that at all—he just was focused on what it would do for him and his fire station. 

Halpern: Taylor’s dreams of becoming a full-time firefighter went up in smoke as he was sentenced to one year and a day in prison.

The judge also ordered him to pay for the financial losses incurred from the emergency response.

Desmond: This shows that hoax bombs are taken seriously, and they are investigated, and people are prosecuted for doing that.

Halpern: If you are aware of any potential threats or suspicious behavior, contact law enforcement. And in emergencies, dial 911.

Making false threats is not a joke. Think before you post. To learn more, visit

This has been an episode of Inside the FBI. Thanks for listening.

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