A former employee of the Brownwood 3M plant has been arrested on allegations she phoned in two bomb threats against the plant Monday night and Tuesday morning, Brown County Sheriff Vance Hill said.
Gwendolyn Fay Hays, 50, of Brownwood, faces two charges of making terroristic threats, Hill said. Hays was a temporary employee at 3M when the threats were made and has been terminated, he said.
Investigators allege Hays made a total of four phone calls — two to 3M and two to the Law Enforcement Center, Hill said. Sheriff's officials obtained two arrest warrants Thursday for Hays, who turned herself in at the Law Enforcement Center Friday afternoon. The two charges are third degree felonies.
Sheriff's officials were seeking Hays Friday morning and were uncertain of her whereabouts. Investigators believed then that Hays had fled Brown County and was possibly in Brady, where Hays has family, Hill said.
Hays also has family in Brownwood and has a common law spouse, the sheriff said.
The plant was evacuated after both threats and no explosive devices were found, 3M and sheriff’s officials said earlier.
Two of the four phone calls made in the bomb threats came from a cell phone that was stolen from another employee’s locker, Hill said.
Hill declined to disclose the evidence that led Texas Ranger Jason Shea and sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Bird to develop Hays as a suspect. Hays spoke with Shea and Bird at the Law Enforcement Center Thursday and denied involvement, Hill said. He said Hays showed signs of deception.
“Investigators have good reason to believe that the cell phone was taken by Hays, who was working at the time the cell phone came up missing,” Hill said.
“Her voice was identified on the (phone) recording by individuals who know her.”
Hill gave the chronology of phone calls in the bomb threats, in which the caller indicated “there was a bomb in the 3M plant that was going to blow the whole building up,” Hill said.
• 9:20 p.m. Monday — call to 3M.
• 9:29 p.m. Monday — call to the Law Enforcement Center.
• 11:47 a.m. Tuesday — call to Law Enforcement Center.
• 11:50 a.m. Tuesday — call to Law Enforcement Center.
“Working closely with 3M management — who I’d like to thank very much for their cooperation and efforts — we were able to identify an employee as a person of interest,” Hill said. “I would also like to give special thanks to the Brownwood Police Department and Brownwood Fire Department for their assistance in the investigation and the two separate searches we did of 3M properties.”
The Bulletin sought comment from 3M Friday morning.
“We can confirm Gwendolyn Hays was a contingent worker at the 3M Brownwood plant from Jan. 1, 2017 through May 31, 2017 and is no longer employed at the plant," 3M said via email.
Earlier, 3M said via email:
“Bomb threats were directed at 3M Brownwood on Monday, May 29, and Tuesday, May 30. In both cases, we immediately evacuated the facility. Our number one priority is the safety of our employees, their families and our community.
With the excellent support of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, Brownwood Police Department, Brownwood Fire Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety, the threats were determined to be false.”