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Avery County Man Pleads Not Guilty to Bomb Planting Charges at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Offices

By Tim Gardner

An Avery County man who served as a former office manager for the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games has pleaded not guilty to trying to plant a bomb at the Highland Games offices.

Thomas Dewey Taylor Jr., age 44, appeared in federal court in Asheville on Wednesday, March 1.  Taylor has been charged with attempting to damage and destroy with an explosive device, possessing a destructive device not registered to him and making a destructive device.

Taylor, Jr.’s last known home address was 316 Snowshoe Loop, Newland.

He was arrested in September of 2021 when an explosive device was discovered at the Grandfather Mountain Highland games’ office in Linville. 

Taylor, Jr. is also suspected of embezzling money from the Highland Games and committing financial credit card theft. He was dismissed as office manager for the organization in August of 2021. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) was notified of those allegations against him and agents responded to investigate. They found what was described as an improvised explosive device (IED), which prompted the Avery County Sheriff’s Department, the SBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to further investigate. 

Taylor, Jr. was indicted on the bomb planting and related charges on February 8, 2023 in United States District Court in Asheville.

According to information provided to High Country Press by the United States Department of Justice office in Charlotte, if convicted, Taylor Jr. faces a 5-year minimum to 20-year maximum prison sentence for Attempted Malicious Destruction and maximum sentences of 10 years each for Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device and Making a Destructive Device.

Also, according to a United States Department of Justice spokesperson, Taylor, Jr.’s federal trial is scheduled to start on May 1, 2023.

Taylor, Jr. additionally faces State of North Carolina charges of three counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a weapon of mass destruction. He has a superior court hearing scheduled for March 13 in Avery County, according to the nccourts.gov website.

Taylor, Jr. is incarcerated in the Avery County Jail, Avery Sheriff Mike Henley said.