Man threatens to blow up Orlando police department over COVID-19 closures

The suspect told dispatchers he was 'going to put people out of work' the same way the coronavirus did


Jeff Weiner
Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO — A man called in a bomb threat to the Orlando Police Department late Tuesday, threatening to blow up the agency’s headquarters and other nearby buildings because people are being “put... out of work” due to the coronavirus crisis, an arrest report said.

Justin Demorea Black, 28, faces charges of false report of a bombing and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. Police did not find any explosives when they arrested him, according to the report.

Police said a caller dialed 911 about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday — about two hours after Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced a county-wide stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — and claimed to have four bombs.

“I’m going to blow up the Orlando Police Department, I’m going to blow up the 7-Eleven, I’m going to blow up… there was a carwash,” the caller said, according to the report.

The man refused to tell a dispatcher where he was or give his name, police said, but added “when you hear explosions, just know I warned ya’ll first.”

“Just know, that Coronavirus, y’all want to put people out of work… yeah… I’m gonna put some people out of work,” the caller said. “Have a good night.”

The caller then hung up. But police were able to trace his location to 440 South Orange Blossom Trail, which is a U.S. Post Office across the street from Orlando Police Department Headquarters.

An arriving OPD officer, Jerry Pergerson, spotted a man later identified as Black leaning against a nearby Lynx bus stop sign. Black was wearing work boots, jeans, a yellow construction vest and a white construction hard hat, Pergerson wrote. He was the only person in the area and was holding a cell phone to his ear, the officer said.

At the same time, a second call came in to 911.

The same caller told a dispatcher, “I got a bomb right here, I’m about to blow up Orlando," adding he was “just letting you [know] the Orlando Police Department is going to get blown up right now. … I give it like thirty minutes.”

“All I got to do is push this button,” the man said.

Pergerson confronted Black, noticing he had a small pepper spray canister in an elastic holster strapped to his wrist. The canister was black with a red button cap. The officer wrote it appeared Black was trying to “portray the canister of pepper spray as some form of a detonation device for the alleged bombs."

The officer confirmed Black had placed the calls by having the dispatch center call him back, the report shows. Black had also called the agency from the same number earlier this month, believing he had a warrant out, the report said.

Pergerson said he tried to interview Black but he was too “belligerent."

When the officer tried to drive him to jail, Black kicked the inside of the patrol car’s door and shouted threats and profanities, Pergerson said, forcing the officer to stop and restrain his legs with help from colleagues.

Black is being held at the Orange County Jail with bail set at $2,800.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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