02/11/10 — Employee arrested for bomb threats at House of Raeford

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Employee arrested for bomb threats at House of Raeford

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on February 11, 2010 1:46 PM

ROSE HILL -- The Duplin County Sheriff's Office arrested a House of Raeford worker Wednesday in connection with several bomb threats made this week at the chicken processing plant near Rose Hill.

Deputies arrested Dedonis Gooden, 20, of Columbus County, on two charges of filing a false bomb report. He is being held under a $20,000 bond and more charges are being pursued.

Sheriff Blake Wallace said Gooden confessed to making the bomb threat calls. Investigators were able to find Gooden by tracking the calls.

"We actually were able to trace the call back to a pay phone," Wallace said.

After finding the location of the pay phone in Sampson County, officials were able to locate security video footage from a nearby convenience store and get a license plate number from a vehicle. The license plate number then led them to Gooden, Wallace said.

The bomb threat Wednesday at the House of Raeford chicken processing plant near Rose Hill was the third such threat the plant has received this week.

Dave Witter, House of Raeford's manager of corporate sustainability and communications, said that the first bomb threat, received on Monday, was called in directly to the plant. The threats made Tuesday and Wednesday were called in to the Sampson County Sheriff's Office. In both cases, Sampson County officials passed the information to the Duplin County Sheriff's Office.

No one was injured and no bombs were found after any of the bomb threat calls, but the company responds seriously to any such threats, Witter said.

The bomb threat Wednesday was called in at about 7:35 a.m., in the middle of a shift change. That meant that fewer people were at the plant than usual.

"At the time that this happened, somewhere between 400 and 450 employees" were in the plant, Witter said.

The disruption at the plant forced the company to suspend activity for about one hour and 15 minutes Wednesday.

It took about the same amount of time on Tuesday to clear the building, and longer than that on Monday, Witter said.

Emergency services from the county and towns of Magnolia and Rose Hill responded to the scene, and Sheriff's Office deputies performed a search of the facility following each bomb threat.

"They do a walk-through of the plant with our maintenance personnel. That can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour," Witter said.

It takes all of the plant's employees about seven to ten minutes to entirely evacuate the building.

Witter said he did not know why the threats were made.

"No, absolutely don't have any idea why anybody would do something like this. Don't have any idea," Witter said.

There were no threats reported this morning.