Pith I-Team Investigation: The Mystery of the Shelbyville E-Bomb Explosion

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Did one of those scary electromagnetic pulse bombs really go off outside Shelbyville a couple of years ago? That’s the question that’s captivated all of us here at Pith in the Wind World Headquarters since state Rep. Rick Womick made that claim during a House subcommittee meeting this week.

Womick thinks terrorists have targeted Tennessee state lawmakers, and he was explaining why the state Office of Homeland Security ought to obtain top-secret security clearances for certain special members of the legislature, presumably including Womick, so they can prepare themselves to go to undisclosed secure locations to survive an attack.

“How many of you have ever heard of an electromagnetic pulse bomb?” Womick asked the subcommittee nonchalantly as if he were introducing a resolution honoring Miss Mule Day.

“An electromagnetic pulse bomb is similar to a nuclear bomb that goes off,” he explained to his puzzled colleagues. “It wipes out everything electronically. We had one go off just down outside of Shelbyville. It’ll be two years ago this summer.”

“Nobody knows about it,” Womick said, adding however that “it was in the paper” in a little story that apparently went unnoticed.

“That EMP bomb—made off the Internet, suitcase-sized—wiped out a 5-mile radius of everything that was electronic. That means your cell phone, telephones, your electronic ignition on your cars, television—anything having to do with electronics is fried. That means there’s no communication. A terrorist attack would follow such an EMP blast. Let’s just say you put the bomb right down here in downtown. You wipe out roughly the entire 5-mile radius, 10-mile radius of Nashville. Nobody can drive anywhere. And if there’s an attack that occurs, law enforcement can’t get there. The cars won’t even start up. They may not even know what’s going on.”

Womick’s remarks raised several questions—including why any self-respecting terrorist would target these chuckleheads in the legislature, but also how come we never heard of this Shelbyville bomb? Is it possible Shelbyville suffered an electronic Armageddon and no one knows it? Has this desperate little city been cut off from the outside world for two years—knocked back into the Stone Age by death rays and tragically unable to communicate its plight—and to this day no one has discovered it? What happened to the walking horses?

We decided to ask around. Has anyone ever heard of this? Oddly, we managed to make contact electronically with people inside Shelbyville. We asked the mayor. Nope. The emergency management director of Shelbyville’s Bedford County? Ditto. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency? Again, the answer was no. The state Department of Safety and Homeland Security? Nay. We even asked Sadie Fowler, editor of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette where Womick supposedly read the little story about the blast.

“We have no recollection of anything remotely similar to that,” Fowler said. “He must be confused.”

Staff writer Brian Mosely did a little digging for us in the newspaper's morgue and came up with nothing.

"I don't recall anything like this at all," he wrote in an email. "I've asked the rest of the crew here and they don't remember anything about this either. The only stuff I've found in our archives about power outages were things like people hitting utility poles ..."

Yes, possibly Womick is confused. He has been known to, ahem, stretch the truth from time to time. He might be talking nonsense, just another tin foil-wrapped nutjob spinning bizarre paranoid fantasies. On the other hand, just because no one will admit that it happened doesn’t mean it didn’t. Think about it. If it did happen, would the Powers that Be talk about it? Of course not. Too many people have never heard of this E-bomb explosion. Doesn't that make you suspicious? The plot thickens.

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