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Press Release

Man Charged With Using An Improvised Explosive Device To Damage A Building

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of North Carolina
Defendant Detonated a Pipe Bomb inside a Walmart in 2007

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Asheville has returned a criminal indictment against Larry Dean Bowlsby, 49, for detonating an improvised explosive device inside a Walmart store in 2007.  Bowlsby was first charged by a criminal complaint filed in the Western District of North Carolina on April 15, 2016, and was arrested in Missouri on May 24, 2016. 

C.J. Hyman, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division; Jim Schandevel, Special Agent in Charge of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s Western District Office; Chief Davis Woodard of the Sylva Police Department and Sheriff Chip Hall of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office join U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.

According to allegations contained in the charging documents, on September 26, 2007, Bowlsby detonated an improvised explosive device, namely a pipe bomb, inside a Walmart store located in Sylva, N.C. Court documents allege that Bowlsby placed the pipe bomb in a shopping cart after entering the store.When the pipe bomb was set off it was located in the sporting goods section next to small camping propane cylinders.Court documents allege that a fingerprint recovered from the shopping cart used by Bowlsby was submitted at the time to a nationwide database, however a match was not returned.In January 2016, the fingerprint was resubmitted, this time returning a positive match to the defendant stemming from a 2009 conviction in Colorado.

“As alleged in the indictment, Bowlsby detonated a pipe bomb inside a busy store, injuring at least one person and putting at risk the lives of many others.  Law enforcement have continued to investigate this case and their persistence has paid off.  Bowlsby will be appearing in federal court in this district to be prosecuted for a crime he committed nearly nine years ago,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.

“Detonating a pipe bomb in a Walmart in the middle of the day is an extremely cowardly act of violence. We were very fortunate that there were no serious injuries.  ATF will continue to work closely with our law-enforcement partners to prosecute those who commit heinous crimes like this,” said Special Agent in Charge Hyman.

“Today’s indictment signifies how important it is for law enforcement to remain diligent in its search for the truth, regardless of the hurdles encountered,” said Special Agent in Charge Schandevel.

Bowlby is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to appear in federal court in Asheville.  He is charged with one count of use of an explosive or incendiary instrument to damage or destroy a building or business entity involved in interstate commerce, which carries a maximum prison term of up to 40 years, and one count of unlawful use of fire and an explosive to commit a felony, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years, consecutive to any other term imposed. 

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Rose praised the work the ATF, SBI, the Sylva Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office which handled the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is prosecuting the case.


Updated June 8, 2016