Police in a rural Alberta town are thanking their American counterparts after cross-border co-operation led to nearly a dozen felony charges for an Illinois man accused of calling in multiple fake bomb threats.
Between Thursday and Saturday, police say 10 bomb threats were made to locations in Taber, about 260 kilometres southeast of Calgary, including schools, a business, the hospital and police station.
The threats prompted police to evacuate parts of the town, including the D.A. Ferguson and W.R. Myers school complex.
In a letter sent home to parents on Friday, the Horizon School District said two schools received “an anonymous voice message” threat, and police said “the children and staff were placed in safe areas” after the calls.
A joint investigation got underway on Saturday when police in Taber contacted the Jackson County Sheriff’s office in Illinois.
Graham Abela, chief of the Taber Police Service, said police in Medicine Hat, Illinois and the United States Department of Homeland Security all participated in the investigation.
In a statement, the Jackson County Sheriff’s office said investigators were able to track the phone number used to call the targets in Taber, leading to the arrest of an Illinois man.
Justin Bagley, 35, of Elkville, Ill., was arrested Saturday and has been charged with 10 counts of felony disorderly conduct in connection with the bomb threats.
Bagley was previously arrested for making a bomb threat at the Wal-Mart in Du Quoin, Ill., where he worked in 2005, according to reports from the Du Quoin Call media outlet.
In 2015, the Southern Illinoisan reported Bagley also pleaded guilty to a charge of domestic battery in 2014 and was sentenced to serve three years in prison for violating a term of his probation.
Abela thanked the American and Canadian law enforcement agencies, as well as the Taber Fire Department, for their assistance.
“The results of this investigation (has) demonstrated the commitment and abilities of our local law enforcement and the partnerships necessary to ensure safe communities,” he said in a statement.
“I am very proud of my police officers and their 24/7 efforts to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion.”
The chief said police in Taber will provide an update at a news conference on Tuesday.
Anyone with information about the bomb threats is asked to contact the Taber Police Service at 403-223-8991.
On Twitter: @RCRumbolt