A southeast Missouri man is facing criminal charges after police said he falsely claimed that a pipe bomb was thrown through a window at New Haven High School on June 28, according to court records.
Rodger L. Watkins II, 23, of Silva, who has a residence in New Haven, was charged June 29 with one count in the second degree of making a terrorist threat, a Class E felony, and one count of trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor.
According to court records, an officer with the New Haven Police Department alleged that shortly after 7 p.m. on June 28, police were dispatched to an apartment to retrieve a key from Watkins. The key was to a New Haven-area business, which had terminated Watkins’ employment.
Watkins was not home at the time police arrived, but a resident of the home turned the key over to police.
Just after 10 p.m., police were dispatched to Casey’s General Store gas station. At the scene, the caller told police that Watkins — who had been banned from the property — had returned and had since left in a maroon-colored Chevrolet Spark.
Authorities later spotted the vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 100. The vehicle was traveling 70 mph and was able to evade the police in the pursuit.
Within 10 minutes of the pursuit, dispatchers relayed to police that a man who identified himself as Jonathan Smith had called in to report a “double pipe bomb” had been thrown through a window in the high school prior to Smith’s 911 call.
Authorities responded to the high school, searched the building and did not locate a pipe bomb.
Police said in the probable cause statement that they had reason to “believe the false 911 call and the vehicle pursuit were related.”
Once they cleared the school building, officers went to the address of the maroon car’s owner, who identified herself as Watkins’ grandmother. She provided police with a cell phone number for Watkins, which police say matched the number provided by Watkins’ mother. This was the number, according to police, that was used by Smith to report the alleged bombing of the high school.
Authorities later pinged Watkins’ phone, which revealed his location in Gasconade County, near Swiss. Deputies in Gasconade County were able to take Watkins into custody. Once in custody, deputies told the New Haven Police Department that they dialed the number responsible for the 911 call, and Watkins’ phone rang.
When later questioned by a New Haven Police Department officer, police said Watkins acknowledged that he returned to his employer but only because he was not told that he had been terminated. He also said he only used his cell phone to “contact his friends to have a good time.”
A court date has not been scheduled in this case.
If convicted on the charge of making a terrorist threat, that crime is punishable by up to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections or a fine of up to $10,000. Watkins also could be ordered to serve prison time and pay a monetary fine. If convicted on the trespassing charge, Watkins could be sentenced to six months in the county jail or ordered to pay a $500 fine.