A 29-year-old Cornelius man who wanted to show police how easy it is to make explosives set off a bomb scare in the town of Cornelius Friday, resulting in the evacuation of the town hall, the police department, a nearby gas station and a drug store.
Cornelius police also closed off the surrounding street and diverted traffic for an entire afternoon.
As of Friday evening, detectives hadn’t decided whether to charge John Patrick Rees with a crime. “Rees is still being interviewed by local and federal officials to determine if charges are applicable,” said a statement from Cornelius Police.
Whether intentional or not, Rees brought the town to a standstill when he walked into the police station lobby at 11:41 a.m., asking to speak with officers.
“Rees wanted to show officers the items he had in his car, which he claimed contained various ingredients that could cause an explosion,” said a statement from the department. “After further conversation with him, it was determined, as a precaution, to contact the FBI.”
The police department, the town hall and multiple businesses were then evacuated.
A bomb robot from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department bomb squad was brought in to search Rees’ vehicle. Inside, they found suspicious items and powders that, if combined, could have become potentially explosive, officials said. CMPD took possession of the items and will destroy them at an undetermined time, officials said.
Detectives also visited Rees’ home on Sterling Bay Lane and cleared the apartment for any suspicious materials, officials said.
In all, eight law enforcement agencies were involved, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.