TEXarkana Police have arrested a man accused of creating a Facebook post that said a case of the COVID-19 virus had been confirmed at the Bowie County Jail Annex.
Jimmie Hock, 39, of TEXarkana was charged on Wednesday with creating a false alarm or report.
Hock surrendered himself and was booked into the Bi-State Jail. He was released later on Wednesday after posting a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.
TEXarkana Police Chief Kevin Schutte said Hock created a Facebook post on Sunday that appeared to be from a legitimate news source and reported a “breaking news” story about the spread of the virus to the jail.
The police department said in a statement that many people in the community who saw the post were alarmed. Several jail employees said that they would not be reporting to work for fear of contracting the virus.
Investigators were able to identify Hock as the person who made the original post and on Monday, obtained an arrest warrant.
“This went far beyond a casual comment or post on social media. He intentionally tried to make this look like a real news story. He wanted to mislead and scare people who are already incredibly nervous about the COVID-19 virus,” Schutte said.
“Given those fears right now, this was basically the same thing as someone yelling ‘fire’ in a theater. Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to anyone else who might think of doing something like this in the future,” Schutte said.