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Explosive "Catalyst-Reaction Vessel" in Mailbox Closes Roby Green Road PDF Print
Written by Steve Frank   
Sunday, 27 February 2011 20:58

The discovery of what might have been a bomb caused a Wilkes bomb squad to come to Watauga late this afternoon, and to the closing of Roby Green Road.  The press release from Sheriff Len Hagaman on the matter: At approximately 1606 hours (4::06 p.m.) on Sunday, February 27, 2011, a call was received by the Watauga County 911 Center from a caller who reported some sort of "unusual object" was in a mailbox in the 3000 block of the Roby Green Road.

The caller went to check on mail in a roadside mailbox and when the door was opened noticed something unusual in the box.

The caller rightfully left the object alone and immediately called the 911 Center.

Officers from the WCSO were dispatched to the area and the Shift Commander, Lt. Bumgarner, who is also a fire fighter, quickly determined that the object was not US mail and contacted myself. I contacted Patrol Commander Captain Redmon and advised him to take command of the scene and, if needed, to contact the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office EOD (Explosive Ordinance Division), Meat Camp Fire and First Responders, and, if needed, medics.

Captain Redmon, following consultation with Lt. Bumgarner, requested the Wilkes EOD and Meat Camp Fire Department be dispatched to the scene. Meat Camp Fire and Meat Camp First Responders reported to the staging area away from the 3000 block of Roby Greene Road. Lt. Bumgarner also positioned Watauga County Deputies and MC Fire so-as-to close the road from vehicular traffic.

Roby Green Road was closed for a period of time from approximately 1615 (4:15 p.m.) while initial assessment of the area and mailbox was surveyed and EOD arrived until 1836 (6:36 p.m.). The Wilkes SO EOD arrived on scene at approximately1750 (5:50 p.m.). While enroute Sgt. Cotton from the Wilkes County EOD and Captain Redmon discussed the possibility of the device being a discarded "shake and bake" meth lab as similarly described objects had surfaced in northwestern NC.

Wilkes County Sheriff's Deputy Sergeant and EOD Commander Cotton determined that the object was what is described as a chemical catalyst/reaction vessel. The vessel was safely retrieved by a Wilkes EOD technician and is being processed for forensic evidence. Sgt. Cotton told me that several similar vessels have surfaced in Wilkes and Caldwell Counties.

Sgt. Cotton stated that such vessels and devices are very dangerous as they use a myriad of dangerous and highly reactive chemicals. He cautioned anyone seeing a questionable object should not go near it, poke it, or pick it up as many times these vessels may violently react when moved which may cause burns, loss of sight, loss of a limb, fire, explosion, and/or death.

I want underscore Sgt. Cotton's words of caution and ask the public to report any suspicious device, no matter its location.

I also want to thank the quick reaction by the Watauga County 911 telecommunicators and deputies in safely responding and quickly assessing the situation. Also many thanks to the Meat Camp Fire and First Responders. I would also like to especially thank Wilkes County Sheriff Chris Shew and the rapid response of the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office EOD  - it is comforting to have these highly skilled, trained, and well equipped unit within 20 minutes of Watauga County. This is one of many times we have called them and I am so deeply appreciative of their quick response and the great cooperation with Sheriff Shew.

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