Since a specific school was not identified in the 911 call received by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, Mammoth Spring, Salem, Viola and Highland schools were evacuated, while the schools could be searched for signs bombs had been planted.
According to a press release from the Sharp County Sheriff's Department, Fulton County contacted Sharp County Central Dispatch around 7:40 a.m. The Fulton County Sheriff's Department advised the cell phone call had gone through a cellular tower located on Nine Mile Ridge in Fulton County, near the Sharp County line. The phone had an 847 prefix, which is the Cherokee Village area. After Highland Police Chief Jeremy Stevens and Sheriff Mark Counts met with Highland Superintendent Tracy Webb, they quickly began the process of evacuating the high school and searching it.
Meanwhile, Fulton County and State Police investigators began developing leads on a possible suspect in the case. ATT cellular service provided the last known address of the registered owner of the cell phone that made the bomb threat call. Law enforcement personnel responded to the address of where the phone was registered to the wife of William Adams on Skyline Drive in Cherokee Village. William Adams was taken to the Hardy Police Department for questioning, arrested and taken to the Fulton County Jail.
According to Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley, Adams served for 21 years in the military and 18 years as a teacher and had no criminal record. While he said he did not remember making the call, Foley said Adams said "That's me," after listening to the 911 call. Sources close to the suspect said he had not taking prescribed medications. As Adams is held in the Fulton County Jail on $200,000 bond, his family is trying to arrange for mental health treatment for him.
As the bomb threat was handled locally, students from the Highland High School were bused to the A.L. Hutson Center for safety, and parents were allowed to pick up their children. Local law enforcement and fire department volunteers searched and guarded the school throughout the day to prevent entry during the search. While Fulton County law enforcement and school staffs searched Fulton County's three high schools, Sharp County authorities obtained the services of a bomb detection dog from the U.S. Air Force to combed the school. No bomb or evidence of explosives was found. Following an interview with Adams after his arrest, the school was declared safe for students to return to class. Most had been picked up by concerned parents by the time classes resumed..
Adams is charged with Falsely Communicating a Terroistic Threat, a Class B Felony. He appeared before Fulton County District Judge Jim Short who set the $200,000 bond, and Adams is to appear before Circuit Court Judge Tim Weaver on Jan. 2, 2003.
Law enforcement wants the public to know that bomb threats and other threats to public safety are taken very seriously, and those found guilty of such offenses will be charged and prosecuted.
Sheriff Foley said the bomb searches and criminal investigation were were handled quickly and smoothly, thanks to experienced and knowledgeable police officers combining resources and working together as a team.