Sunday’s Real Housewives of Atlanta was nearly an explosive episode — but not for the reason fans are used to.
On her way to New Jersey’s Fort Dix correctional facility to visit estranged husband Apollo Nida in jail and hopefully finalize their divorce, Phaedra Parks received a call from a legal assistant at her Atlanta law office with some disturbing news.
“I just got to the office and we got a bomb threat towards you,” the woman, named LaToya, said. “A suspicious package.”
The news shook Parks to the core. “I’m freaked out,” she explained — calling her mom and telling her to “just get the kids and go.”
“Keep the alarm on to keep him out,” Parks said. “If anybody’s that crazy to try to bring a bomb, you know what I’m sayin’?”
Her mother, Pastor Regina, remained calm and lead Parks through a prayer. “I’ve got the kids — we’ll be alright,” she told her daughter. “Just take care of what’s there and I can take care of what I need to do here.”
The words were helpful to Parks. “As a mom, my duty is to protect my kids,” she confessed to viewers, while wiping back tears. “Thank God [my mom] prayed with me and made me feel so much better.”
Parks then called Nida to tell him what had happened. “Someone tried to deliver a bomb to my office, so I’m trying to figure out what’s going on,” she told him. “I’m trying to just get the kids safe, my mom safe.”
Nida sounded scared too. “This person doesn’t know where the house is, does he?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Parks responded. “You don’t know what anybody knows anymore, you know?”
Back in Atlanta, news of the bomb threat quickly spread to the other Housewives. Kandi Burruss received a phone call from her assistant telling her the news. The Grammy winner was with Kenya Moore at the time.
“This dude came to Phaedra’s office with a grenade and said he was going to blow the f—– building up,” Burruss said. “A real grenade. Said he was going to blow himself up and everybody in there.”
“I just can’t imagine if something were to happen to Phaedra. She’s got those two beautiful boys,” a shocked Moore said.
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But while the fear felt very real on Sunday’s episode, reports have surfaced since suggesting that the threat was all a misunderstanding.
Suspect Terrence Cook was arrested by Atlanta police in July, PEOPLE reported at the time, after entering a Georgia office building looking for Parks and allegedly claiming he had a bomb and “was tired of being treated wrongly.”
While Cook was charged with making terroristic threats and creating a false public alarm, police say no bomb was ever found. He was carrying a book and a FedEx envelope — not a grenade, as Burruss had heard.
He also wasn’t in Parks’ offices. Police confirmed to PEOPLE that Cook was attempting to reach Parks’ law practice in the office building, in Atlanta’s Buckhead area, but ended up at a different firm on a different floor.
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Parks told TMZ in August that Cook is a friend, and that he was coming by her office to drop of his new CD. Apparently people got confused when he referred to the album as “a bomb CD” that was going to “blow up.”
She added that whoever called the police saw a black guy in a white T-shirt and baggy pants with gold teeth and assumed the worst, TMZ reported.
Ironically, just before the incident occurred, Parks was hosting a panel discussion at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia about racial profiling — alongside Florida Representative and mentor, Frederica S. Wilson. The conversation was shown on Sunday’s episode.
“The discussion today is so important because we’re in the midst of quadruple numbers of unarmed black women and men who’ve been gunned down by the police,” Parks said. “And we have to discuss the problem because we can’t solve it if we act like it doesn’t exist.”
The conversation also included Judge Mathis, Indiana Representative André Carson, White House staffer David J. Johns, Rev. Jamal Bryant, and Trayvon Martin’s older brother Jahvaris Fulton.
“One of the things that I think is so important is that America move away from this misnomer that violence is all black,” Rev. Bryant said.
Shereé Whitfield knew about that problem all too well. Her 19-year-old son Kairo Whitfield had just been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.
“Kairo has always been a good kid,” she told viewers. “He’s attending one of the top African-American schools in the county. I never expected him having any dealings with the cops.”
Confronting her son, Shereé reminded him that the two had attended the Million Man March the previous year and met with the mothers of slain black men. “Anything could happen,” she told Kairo. “And this is something you have to put in your head that as a black young man, you’re not on the same playing field as a lot of people. And that’s the f—- up part about it.”
“Because you are black you have to try harder,” she added. “You have to do better. Do you understand that.”
Kairo apologized, explaining that he was pulled over not for driving reckless, but for an expired tag. “I just didn’t think it would happen to me,” he said. “I’ll make better decisions on friends and smoking weed. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m just sorry. ”
Shereé accepted his apology, but told him to be careful. “These kid didn’t expect it would happen to them — their mom didn’t expect it would happen to their kids,” she said. “So you have to make sure you’re putting yourself in the right situations and making better decisions… [You] got to be careful.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.