Police and court documents reveal additional details of what allegedly happened during a bomb scare that took place in Walter Hill on Dec. 27.
James Joseph Turgeon 33, of Holly Grove Road near Murfreesboro was charged with two counts of felony filing a false report and one count of tampering with evidence, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said, quoting Det. Joseph Duncan.
The sheriff’s office on Dec. 27 reported that Turgeon allegedly broadcast a recording that was similar to the message that was played prior to the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville.
Turgeon was held on $500,000 bond at the Rutherford Count Adult Detention Center, the RCSO said. He is scheduled to appear in Rutherford County General Sessions Court on Tuesday, Jan. 5, according to arrest warrants. An additional hearing is set June 7 in General Sessions Court, the sheriff’s office said.
The alleged incident began in Walter Hill around late morning on Dec. 27, and Turgeon’s truck was pulled over in Wilson County, where he was arrested, police said. Lt. Bill Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol said a THP Special Operations Unit robot checked the truck for explosives but found none, according to an RCSO statement.
The Murfreesboro Post obtained the arrest warrants as well as the attached affidavits of complaint filled out by Duncan. The Post left a message for the Public Defender’s Office, which the warrants indicated is representing Turgeon. The office did not respond.
The affidavits say that on Dec. 27, Duncan began to investigate a possible bomb threat. Turgeon was driving a large white box truck. While in close proximity to King’s Chapel Independent Missionary Baptist Church at East Jefferson Pike and Dunway Chapel Road, an announcement allegedly was made over the vehicle’s mounted public announcement system. The message allegedly said that people had 15 minutes to evacuate.
Church was in service, according to a statement by the RCSO. The church’s pastor declined to be interviewed for this story.
Turgeon allegedly said, during an interview with police, that he used a YouTube video of the audio from the Christmas bombing, the affidavits say. He allegedly also played the recording for about 14 seconds at the Crossroads Market.
RCSO Deputy Andrew Quintal wrote in an incident report that he began investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle at the Crossroads Market. The complainant said a white box truck with a speaker was sitting in the parking lot and playing a “sound notifying people to evacuate the area, the same sound that was heard before the explosion in Nashville” on Christmas, the report said. The truck was reportedly occupied by a male driver and a female passenger who appeared to be a minor.
Quintal wrote that he arrived at the market at 10:37 a.m. and saw a white box truck with two people leave the market, driving on Lebanon Road toward Wilson County. He said he turned off his blue lights and followed the truck from a safe distance while waiting for backup.
Turgeon allegedly told police that after he left the market’s parking lot, he saw a police car with blue lights behind him, but they were then deactivated, the affidavits say. He also allegedly said he disabled the PA system by disconnecting the wires.
Capt. Scott Moore of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an incident report that police stopped the truck on U.S. Highway 231 one-quarter of a mile south of Cedars of Lebanon State Park. The Wilson Post reported that 231 was temporarily closed.
The WCSO report also mentions that a juvenile female was with Turgeon.
Police moved 500 meters away from the truck until the THP and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived and the truck was cleared, Moore said.
Residents of nearby houses were told to shelter in place, or were evacuated, Quintal’s report said. The child’s mother arrived and took custody of the teenager.
Turgeon allegedly said he had not played “a similar audio, but the young daughter stated that he in fact … ‘did’ play the audio to scare people,” Moore’s report said.
Moore wrote that he was informed that the vehicle identification number plate and license plate had been removed from the truck.
Turgeon allegedly said he went inside Crossroads Market to buy $5 of gas. He allegedly said he played a recording of the Nashville bombing from a YouTube video.
The ATF agent later allegedly told Quintal that he had interviewed the juvenile, who said she and her father went to the church and the market and played the message, the deputy’s report said. Deputy Zachary Campbell spoke to the church’s pastor, who allegedly said he and others heard the message over the loudspeaker. Three people who were at the church came to the sheriff’s office to make statements.