TEXARKANA, Texas — The Texarkana Police Department arrested a 39-year-old man on Wednesday after he allegedly created a fake news report of positive COVID-19 cases at the Bi-State Jail and posted that story to Facebook.
"Believing that the post was real, many people in the community who saw it were alarmed," stated the Texarkana Police Department. "Several jail employees even said that they would not be reporting to work for fear of contracting the virus."
Investigators were able to determine 39-year-old Jimmie Hock of Texarkana, Texas, created the fake Facebook post on Sunday, March 22, 2020, "that appeared to be from a legitimate news source and reported a 'breaking news' story that a case of COVID-19 virus had been confirmed in the Bowie County Jail Annex."
Hock was arrested on Wednesday of last week and charged with creating a false alarm or report. He was booked into the Bi-State Jail and released later that same day after posting a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.
“This went far beyond a casual comment or post on social media," stated Texarkana Police Department Chief Kevin Schutte. "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."
"Given those fears right now, this was basically the same thing as someone yelling “fire” in a theater," stated Schutte. "Hopefully, this will serve as a warning to anyone else who might think of doing something like this in the future."