From Staff Reports
PETERSBURG, W.Va. — A Sheetz store and some nearby residences were evacuated Friday night after a man outside the business was found to be in possession of an apparent improvised explosive device.
Grant County Sheriff’s Department Deputy K.R. Thorne responded to the store for a complaint of a man soliciting money outside the business just after 8 p.m.
Thorne spoke with the man and identified him as 32-year-old Rebecca Lynn Hare, of Montana, who said he was en route to visit a power plant in Niagara Falls.
Hare was carrying a backpack and the deputy inquired if he was in possession of any weapons. Hare said he was not and opened the backpack to reveal a brick of yellow cylinders taped together with wires coming from the end of the cylinders and going into what appeared to be a power unit.
The device included another set of wires attached to a cell phone, giving the appearance of being an improvised explosive device (IED), police said.
With assistance of West Virginia Trooper N.J. Schellhaus, Thorne then ordered the manager of the Sheetz store to evacuate. Nearby residences were also evacuated at that time with assistance of the Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department.
Police then took the suspect and moved a safe distance from the scene.
Mineral County Sheriff’s Department Capt. J.J. Wingler and his bomb-detecting dog also arrived at the scene along with West Virginia State Police Bomb Technician Sgt. L.A. Faircloth. With use of an X-ray device, it was determined the device was not an explosive device as suspected.
It was shortly after 10 p.m. when law enforcement determined the device was not an explosive mechanism.
Police also found a handgun in the backpack, prompting the arrest of Hare on a charge of felon in possession of handgun. Three other electronic devices like the suspected IED were also found in Hare’s backpack.
Investigation also determined the device included laptop batteries removed from their housing that Hare reportedly used for a power supply for his electronic devices and scooter.
Hare was taken into custody and remained jailed Monday in the Potomac Highlands Regional Jail in lieu of $3,000 bond.
Assistance at the scene was also provided by a National Forest Service law enforcement officer, Maysville and Moorefield volunteer fire departments, Grant County Star City Ambulance, West Virginia Division of Highways and Shirks Towing.