CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. — The Campbell County Sheriff's Office and FBI are investigating after several churches reported concerning letters left at their front doors.
Sheriff Robbie Goins spoke publicly about the letters Monday, saying deputies began receiving reports from pastors about them on Thursday. As of Monday morning, he said a total of seven letters were found across the community -- five at local Baptist churches, one at a Jellico business and one at a masonic lodge.
Goins said the letters did not contain any "specific threats," saying false rumors began to spread about a possible planned shooting.
"I don't know how that got started, because it's not true," Goins said.
In response, Goins said extra patrols were placed at the churches and around the area.
Goins said his department is working with the FBI and Tennessee Highway Patrol to investigate the letters and to provide extra patrols in the area. He's asking anyone who finds concerning letters to contact the sheriff's department at (423) 562-7446 or the FBI Knoxville office at (865) 544-0751.
Goins said people should not touch the letters if possible and to take photographs of them before calling 911. He's also asking churches in the area to be vigilant and on the lookout for any suspicious vehicles.
"We want to know about these letters if you find any," he said. "We want to know that we're safe. We want to know that our people are safe. At this point, I think we are, but we are not going to take any chances."
Goins said the letters were found specifically at Baptist churches in the area, saying two or three were in the Caryville area. He said he could not provide details about what was written in the typed-up letters, but said they were "coherent," not all the same and had some "disturbing things."
Goins said one of the seven locations had security cameras on-site, saying said authorities will examine the footage.
Goins said he hasn't seen anything like this in the county since he started working with the department in 1990.
The FBI told 10News that they are "aware suspicious letters have been received in a number of locations in the Campbell County area."
"We are in touch with our law enforcement partners and, as always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activity to law enforcement," the FBI said.