Pair Charged in Explosive Device at Elementary School; Planned to Shoot Cops, Start Race War

Carol Robinson, AL, November 23, 2016

A convicted felon who claims he wanted to shoot cops is behind bars in connection with the explosives device planted outside of a Trussville elementary school.

Authorities today announced state charges against 35-year-old Zachary Edwards and 34-year-old Raphel Dilligard, both of eastern Birmingham. They are charged with possession of a hoax destructive device, rendering false alarm and making terrorist threats, said Trussville police Capt. Jeff Bridges.

Zachary Edwards and Raphel Dilligard

Zachary Edwards and Raphel Dilligard

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Edwards claimed to be a member of the Black Panthers and the Black Mafia, but authorities have not yet confirmed his reported associations with any organized group. “My guys believe this individual to be a very dangerous person,” said Dave Hyche, ATF’s assistant special agent in charge in Alabama.

Lawmen responded en masse to Magnolia Elementary School on Wednesday, Nov. 16, after they received a 911 from a woman who reported seeing a Hispanic male place the package on a pickup truck that belonged to a school cafeteria worker. The package was a box with wires and timer attached.

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Once brought in for questioning, both gave confessions. Edwards admitted to planting the device, and said his plan was to get all police officers and first responders in one place so he could shoot them. {snip}

Edwards also talked of using the incident as a diversion so he could commit crimes elsewhere– such as robbing a bank–while the police were tied up at the elementary school, but backed out of that plan.

“Probably because of the overwhelming response to the area,” Hyche said. “He wanted everybody in one place so he could kill cops. He made it clear to our guys he wanted to commit acts of violence. This arrest probably did stop something bad from happening.”

He discussed starting a race war, but authorities didn’t elaborate on what he said.

The device–which was disabled in nearby woods–did contain gun powder. “It was painstakingly put together and it also had most of what you need to make a bomb,” Hyche said. He said, however, that there was no way the device could have detonated, but he didn’t elaborate.

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