Bartlett Police say ‘no threat to citizens’ after investigating suspicious letters left at churches

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Law enforcement officers were on alert after threatening notes were left at two  are churches.

The notes were found at the Christ Church and at New Hope Christian Church. Bartlett Police aren’t saying what the notes said, or if anyone is facing charges.

In a statement released to WREG, the police department said, “the individual believed to be responsible for these letters interacted with law enforcement and an area church while passing through the city of Bartlett. After speaking with family members, it was determined that the individual has been suffering from various mental health issues over the past few months.”

The statement goes on to say the notes, “are not that of a direct threat of imminent violence, but more related to delusional ideologies.” The office also said further investigation has revealed the individual is no longer in the Mid-South metropolitan area, and that there is no apparent threat to the citizens of Bartlett. They said they are still working with outside agencies to facilitate their follow-up investigations.

Also on Tuesday the FBI announced the arrest of a truck driver in Indiana for allegedly threatening a mass shooting at a Memphis church. At this time it does not appear this incident is related to the letters in Bartlett. According to court documents, the man told a friend he planned a mass shooting at a Memphis church on Thursday.

The circumstances of Matthew Thomas McVicker’s arrest are unclear, but federal court papers include eerie details into McVicker’s alleged plans.

A friend of McVicker’s in Alabama told FBI agents he told her in a phone call that he intended to take his knife and slit the pastor’s throat. He also said he was concerned about how his family would be after he shot up a church. He went on to say, “So I think I’m gonna kill some people on the street and get away with it. Then I’ll kill myself.”

A specific church that he was targeting has not been named.

“Of course I reached out to our director of operations and our staff about what our necessary precautions need to be. We needed to go to several different operational levels that we keep internally for security measures,” Pastor Keith Norman, with First Baptist Church Broad Ave., said.

“We want to highlight the young lady who passed along the information to the FBI. She did the right thing. She was able to pass along information to law enforcement. It was able to be investigated, and a possible national tragedy was avoided because this young lady did the right thing,” Louis Brownlee, with the Memphis Police Department, said.

Brownlee says the woman followed the important mantra, “If you see something, say something.”

“If you see anything, or hear anything, call law enforcement. Let the professionals deal with it, and let them figure out if it’s credible or not.”

An attorney for McVicker’s family says they’re asking for privacy, and they want him to get the mental health care he needs.

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