During the late evening hours of July 5th, 2015, Security Personnel from Murphy Medical Center called Cherokee County Communications stating that a male subject had threatened to “shoot Sheriff’s Office deputies and blow them up.” According to Security Personnel, the male subject became upset when asked to stop smoking a cigarette near the entrance of the Emergency Room. The male subject was later identified as Matthew Anthony Blankenship, a 39 year old registered sex offender who was visiting a relative who was in the hospital at the time.
Upon hearing the threats, hospital staff locked down the hospital. Members of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and Murphy Police Department arrived and immediately began searching for Blankenship. The search was expanded to available businesses that were open at the time.
Through sex offender registration records held by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, Andrews Police Officers set up surveillance at the registered address of Blankenship and shortly after midnight were able to apprehend him as he attempted to flee to a residence across from his registered residence. Upon the arrest of Blankenship, the hospital was taken off lock down.
Blankenship was charged with Communicating Threats and is currently detained in the Cherokee County Detention Center under a $500.00 secure bond and is expected to be in Cherokee County District Court on July 29th, 2015.
Sheriff Palmer said, “I want to thank the Murphy and Andrews Police Departments for their assistance in this dangerous situation. This was a good cooperative effort between the three departments to bring a quick end to the situation. Blankenship’s threats put a lot of stress on the law enforcement officers in Cherokee County and caused a lot of turmoil at the hospital as well. This is not the first time the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has dealt with Blankenship. I would like to point out that no one in my office sets bonds, that is for someone else.”
Sheriff Palmer encourages any one that has information to report it. To report crime in Cherokee County you can call the anonymous tip line at 828-837-1344 or email a tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 911 if you observe a crime in progress.
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