Did This West Virginia Man Really Threaten To Blow Up Courthouse?

August 24, 2022Joshua Skovlund
West Virginia authorities say James Dean Fowler, 50, threatened to blow up a federal courthouse and a Bluefield church on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority photo.

West Virginia authorities say James Dean Fowler, 50, threatened to blow up a federal courthouse and a Bluefield church on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority photo.

A West Virginia man remains behind bars after strolling into a federal courthouse in Bluefield armed with a box cutter and what he claimed was a bomb strapped to his back, jail records indicate.

On Monday, Aug. 22, the West Virginia State Police Bomb Squad blew up a black backpack belonging to James Dean Fowler, 50, but it didn’t have any explosives in it.

After demanding to speak to a federal agent because “someone was going to listen to him today,” Fowler also said he’d planted a second bomb at Westminster Presbyterian Church, about a mile from the Elizabeth Key Federal Courthouse, but investigators turned up only a “hoax device” stuffed in a “large tan colored bag” secreted in a bush, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Magistrate Court of Mercer County.

Fowler faces two counts of manufacturing a hoax bomb, two counts of hoax terroristic threats, and one count of falsely reporting a bomb. He’s being held at the Southern Regional Jail and Correctional Facility in Beaver on a $500,000 cash bond.

west virginia man courthouse

Located in Mercer County, West Virginia, the Bluefield Police Department safeguards the lives and property of 9,658 residents. City of Bluefield photo.

Fowler’s attorney, Bobby Erickson, declined comment to Coffee or Die Magazine. If convicted, Fowler could spend up to 10 years in a West Virginia penitentiary on each of the bomb-making counts.

Monday’s bomb scare forced the evacuation of neighborhoods surrounding the federal courthouse, the church, and Fowler’s apartment in Bluefield. Investigators remain baffled about his motive.

After searching his flat and interrogating Fowler, FBI Special Agent Phil Gunther told Bluefield Police Detective Lt. Kenneth L. Adams that Fowler “spoke about devices inside cell phones and seemed to suffer from some sort of mental illness,” according to the criminal complaint.

Bluefield Police officers declined comment.

Fowler’s rap sheet dates back to 2001 and includes arrests for identity fraud, domestic violence, and drug-dealing. His preliminary hearing is slated for Sept. 1 in Mercer County Magistrate Court.

Read Next: Watchdogs Prep Case Against Fraudster Who Bilked GI Bill Veterans

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Medal of Honor is held up.
Biden Will Award Medal of Honor to Army Helicopter Pilot Who Rescued Soldiers in Vietnam Firefight

Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot who risked his life to save a reconnaissance team from almost certain death.

dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved