ROCK SPRINGS — A man now accused of bombing a North Carolina Walmart in 2007 was arrested and jailed in Rock Springs in 2014 – for shoplifting at Walmart.
On September 26, 2007, an improvised explosive device – a galvanized pipe bomb containing smokeless powder – was detonated inside the sporting goods department near some propane bottles in Walmart in Sylva, North Carolina. No one was killed, and no serious injuries were reported. A multi-agency investigation was launched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and local and state authorities.
Aside from store video footage that appeared to identify the suspect in the bombing as a white male with his hair pulled back in a pony tail, there was little in the way of physical evidence at the scene with one exception – a single latent fingerprint found on the shopping cart containing the bomb.
The fingerprint was submitted through a national database for comparison, with negative results.
Nine years passed, and the print was resubmitted in January of this year. This time, investigators got a positive match, to a man named Larry Dean Bowlsby, age 49.
In 2009, two years after the Sylva bombing, Bowlsby was convicted in Sterling, Colorado, for possession of an explosive/incendiary device.
In November 2013, Bowlsby was detained for shoplifting at Walmart in Fernley, Nevada, and on September 18, 2014, he was arrested for shoplifting at Walmart in Rock Springs by officers of the Rock Springs Police Department. Bowlsby was booked into the Sweetwater County Detention Center and posted a $410 bond for his release on the same day.
Federal officials in North Carolina charged Bowlsby with “Use of an explosive or incendiary instrument to damage or destroy a building or business entity involved in interstate or foreign commerce” in the Sylva bombing, and he was arrested by federal authorities in Missouri on May 24.
Authorities say Bowlsby will probably be returned to North Carolina within several weeks.