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Mount Vernon man charged for bomb threat at Plankinton clinic, says TV was on

When asked if he used the word "bomb," the suspect denied it, adding that the television may have been on in the background.

The town of Plankinton's water tower. (Daily Republic file photo)
The town of Plankinton's water tower. (Daily Republic file photo)
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PLANKINTON, S.D. — Police in Aurora and Davison counties are searching for a Mount Vernon man after he allegedly threatened to bomb a clinic and the town of Plankinton.

Robert Pugh, 62, of Mount Vernon, was charged Monday, March 7, 2022, with one count of making a terrorist threat. A warrant for his arrest was issued the same day.

Shortly before 1 p.m. on Feb. 25, Aurora County Sheriff Roman Briggs received a phone call from an employee of Horizon Health Care in Plankinton, reporting the facility had received a bomb threat over the phone. Briggs instructed the employee to lock the doors and begin typing what happened as he was on his way over.

Upon arrival to the facility, the employee told Briggs she had a hard time understanding the male, but that she clearly heard him say "come and blow up the clinic and the town."

Using patient information, the employee was able to give Briggs information on who she believed placed the call. The law allows healthcare providers to disclose patient information to law enforcement if there is a threat of danger.

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At approximately 4 p.m. that same day, Briggs met with a Davison County deputy and went to the residence in Mount Vernon associated with Pugh.

Upon arrival, the officers were met by Pugh and another woman who lived at the residence. Pugh invited them inside where he began explaining the health issue he was working to help the woman resolve.

Pugh allegedly told police that he was on the phone trying to figure out the woman's medications, as he believed she needed medications to help regulate her moods and sleep. He claimed no matter how hard he tries, the woman cannot be woken up from a heavy sleep, and that he needed to get an appointment for a sleep study as a matter of safety.

He claimed that, while on the phone with the clinic in Plankinton, the employee "would not listen" and had told him "I don't want to hear it." He told officers he was frustrated that the woman had to wait until March 3 for her next appointment.

When asked if he had made any mention of a bomb, Pugh denied using the word "bomb" or any word that could have been misconstrued as "bomb." He claimed the TV may have been on in the background.

After the investigation concluded on Feb. 25, Pugh was charged by the decision of Aurora County State's Attorney Rachel Mairose on March 7. He has yet to be served with the charges, so a court date has not yet been set.

Making a terrorist threat is a Class 5 felony, punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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