Greenville police investigate suspicious device

Published 9:37 am Friday, January 12, 2024

Greenville Police Chief Justin Lovvorn has confirmed that an investigation into a suspicious device near Walmart has led to the arrest of one individual and the confiscation of items that could have been used to construct an explosive device. 

According to Chief Justin Lovvorn, the Greenville police received a call on Jan. 11, regarding a man who was making threatening statements inside and outside of the Walmart store. The man reportedly alluded to having explosive items in his backpack.

“About 1:30 yesterday we got a call about a suspicious person making threats to individuals and to himself,” Lovvorn said. “By the time we got there, he had already vacated the store and moved to the other side of the parking lot by Murphy (gas station). As we were talking with him, he made an over action that resulted in us taking him into custody.”

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Subsequently, officers conducted a search of his backpack and discovered items that raised concerns about the possibility of them being used in the construction of an explosive device.

“At that point we realized the material in his backpack could be used to make an improvised explosive device so we decided to leave it until a bomb tech could look at it,” Lovvorn said.

 As a precautionary measure, the area was sealed off, and a bomb squad was called in to assess the nature of the contents found in the backpack.

“Within about 45 minutes we were able to clear the area and less 45 minutes after that we had the bomb tech there.”

Following a thorough examination, it was determined that while the items in the backpack had the potential to be used in the creation of a makeshift bomb, they were not assembled in a manner that would make them active.

Chief Lovvorn stated that preliminary information suggests the arrested individual is Joseph McRoberts, possibly from Florida, who was unaccompanied and uncooperative with authorities. McRoberts has been charged with making a terroristic threat, which is a felony, and is currently being held in the Butler County jail.

No injuries were reported as a result of this incident. The prompt response and effective coordination among law enforcement agencies helped ensure the safety of the public during this potentially dangerous situation. 

The Greenville Police Department is continuing its investigation into the matter to gather further details and ascertain the motive behind the individual’s actions.