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Press Release

Avery County Man Is Sentenced To Prison For Making A Destructive Device And Related Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – An Avery County man was sentenced today to 97 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for making a destructive device and related offenses, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Bennie Mims, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division, Robert Schurmeier, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI), and Sheriff Mike Henley of the Avery County Sheriff’s Office, join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.

Thomas Dewey Taylor, Jr., 45, of Newland, N.C., previously pleaded guilty to attempting to damage and destroy a building used in interstate commerce by fire and explosive, possession of an unregistered National Firearms Act weapon, and making a destructive device. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger imposed Taylor’s sentence today in federal court.

According to court records and today’s sentencing hearing, Taylor was a former employee of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Inc. (GMHG), located in Linville, N.C. On September 27, 2021, Taylor disabled the alarm system to the GMHG office, turned off the main power breaker, and hid a destructive device in an office closet. The destructive device consisted of a 48-quart cooler housing fuses bundled together and tied to an electric burner hotplate. The fuses ran to fireworks and containers of ignitable liquids. The hotplate was plugged into an extension cord which was plugged into an electrical receptacle in the closet. Also inside the cooler was a glass pitcher with rocks and a PVC pipe bomb. Court records show that the destructive device was constructed so it would ignite once someone turned on the main power breaker, resulting in an explosion designed to cause property damage, injury, and death to persons nearby.

Taylor remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending placement by the Bureau of Prisons.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King commended the ATF, the NC SBI, and the Avery County Sheriff’s Office for their investigation of the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex M. Scott, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, prosecuted the case.


Updated May 30, 2024

Violent Crime