Threat at council panel’s meeting leads to arrest

A Pine Bluff man was arrested on a felony charge of threatening to cause a catastrophe after allegedly indicating that he would “blow up” the Pine Bluff Civic Center as he exited a city council planning and development committee meeting about 1:50 p.m. Tuesday.

Felix Rouse, 49, was brought to the police department’s detectives office from his residence by Sgt. Billy Dixon.

According to a report by Officer Maurice Hopkins, Rouse became agitated during the committee meeting and was accusing the city of attempting to take possession of a former bait shop that he owns. The bait shop is located on Pullen Street and has been under scrutiny by the city’s inspection and zoning department.

Alderman Charles Boyd, who chairs the committee, said Rouse “used some profanity” while addressing the panel in a conference room adjacent to the council chambers. Rouse was in the room about 10 minutes, said Boyd, who was joined by fellow committee members aldermen Lloyd Holcomb Jr. and Steven Mays along with several inspection and zoning department employees.

Holcomb said the conference started well, but Rouse began to “lose his temper” as talks continued.

“Then he just went into a rage and things happened,” Holcomb said.

Hopkins reported that he was told by several city employees who were in the council chambers that Rouse, as he was walking toward an exit, said, “You’re going to make me do something I will regret later.”

Rouse then added, “I will blow this (expletive deleted) up.”

Police were notified and given a description of the vehicle in which Rouse had driven away. Dixon confronted Rouse shortly afterward.

Lt. Donna Fratesi and detective Mike Sweeney investigated the incident.

Alderman Glen Brown was slated to speak to the committee after Rouse, but Brown said later that he had another engagement and left before Rouse’s outburst. Brown had wanted to address the panel on a personal matter involving a residence formerly occupied by his recently deceased brother.

Neither Boyd, Holcomb or Mays heard Rouse’s threat, they said. Holcomb noted, however, that he did hear some commotion in the council chambers as Rouse was leaving. Mayor Debe Hollingsworth did not attend the meeting.

Threatening to cause a catastrophe is a Class D felony, punishable upon conviction by a sentence of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.