Man arrested for possession of homemade bomb

By DeeAnna Haney | Sep 04, 2013
John Clinton Cathy, 37, was arrested Saturday after police found a homemade pipe bomb in his truck.

A routine welfare check on a man who was stranded on the road without gas took a serious turn when Waynesville police found a homemade bomb in the vehicle.

Sgt. Brandon Gilmore was driving toward the traffic circle on Old Asheville Highway Sunday when he noticed a Toyota pickup truck parked on the right shoulder of the road.

The driver, 37-year-old John Clinton Cathy, told Gilmore he believed he ran out of gas. According to police reports, Gilmore suspected Cathy was under the influence of meth because of his "fidgety" behavior, profuse sweating and labored breathing.

After speaking with Cathy for a short time, Gilmore used his canine to search along the outside of the truck. While conducting the search, Cathy told an assisting officer that he had "found a plastic pipe with wires coming out of it earlier in the day at Sunburst Campground."

Cathy also told the officer that the pipe bomb was in the truck wrapped inside a green rain coat. He said he had found the bomb, which was made of PVC pipe and wires, submerged in a creek at the campground, said Lt. Chris Chandler.

He told police that he removed the bomb and intended to take it to the sheriff's office, but later forgot it was in his truck.

When Gilmore looked inside the truck, he found the suspected bomb tucked in a pocket of the rain coat. Gilmore left the bomb in the truck and immediately called the Asheville Police Department bomb squad for aid.

A portion of the road was closed and the bomb squad removed the pipe bomb from the truck.

"They detonated it in a controlled way and determined that it was in fact an active bomb," said Chandler.

According to reports, it was reported that the homemade bomb "was an explosive device and would have caused serious injury or death had it been detonated."

In later interviews, Cathy continued to deny that he made the bomb and continued to say he found it at the campground, however there were some inconsistencies with his stories, Chandler said.

Cathy was later arrested and charged with felony possession of a weapon of mass destruction and felony transporting a weapon of mass destruction.

Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed said calls involving explosive devices are rare.
"We have had calls when people bring home live grenades that they bought somewhere, but as far as somebody making and possessing an explosive device and driving it around town, that happens very infrequently."
It was an example of how quickly a routine traffic stop can turn into a serious and dangerous situation, he said.


"If it had detonated, it could have caused serious injury or even death not only to those in the truck but also to those around them," said Hollingsed.


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