Police: Couple planted fake bomb hoping to shoot officers

Zachary Edwards, 35, and Raphel Dilligard, 34 (Trussville Police Department)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (AP) — An Alabama couple planted a fake bomb at a suburban elementary school hoping to shoot officers arriving at the scene or even rob a bank, police said Wednesday.

Zachary Edwards, 35, and Raphel Dilligard, 34, of Birmingham face charges that include making terrorist threats, rendering a false alarm and possessing a hoax destructive device, said police Capt. Jeff Bridges of Trussville, Alabama.

A hoax bomb was found outside Magnolia Elementary School on Nov. 16, prompting a response that included agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Authorities said it contained gunpowder, modeling clay and a timer, but no detonator. Experts examined the device and then detonated it at the scene.

“It looked real enough that it concerned us,” Bridges said in an interview.

Arrested afterward, the couple told investigators what they had planned, according to Bridges. The couple, who share an address, wanted to shoot officers at the school or rob a bank while police were busy dealing with the bogus bomb, he said.

Authorities determined that a stopwatch used as a timer in the fake bomb was sold at Walmart and they began searching stores where it may have been purchased. Authorities said that search led to video surveillance images of Dilligard and, in turn, Edwards.

The man told police he was part of the Black Panthers and the Black Mafia, Bridges said, but it was unclear whether he was actually affiliated with any group.

Court records weren’t yet available to show whether Edwards or Dilligard had a lawyer who could speak on their behalf.

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