Erwin PD: Man arrested after leaving backpack near propane tank exchange at Food Lion, claiming bomb was inside


ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – A man has been arrested after Erwin police say he left a backpack by a propane tank at a grocery store and falsely told an employee there was a bomb in it before fleeing the scene.

According to a post by the Erwin Police Department, officers were called to the Food Lion on North Main Avenue on Wednesday evening due to a reported bomb threat.

The post says officers quickly arrived and learned that a customer, later identified as Joe Williams, had become agitated because “people were watching him” and left the business.

Williams reportedly set his backpack “near a propane tank exchange stand and told a nearby employee that it had a bomb inside it.” Williams then ran from the scene, according to the post.

Erwin police evacuated the store and secured the area. The Erwin Police Explosive Detection K-9 Unit was called in. The K-9 cleared the backpack and discovered there were no explosives inside.

Officers searched the backpack and found personal documents identifying Williams, 56, of Erwin, as the suspect.

Williams was found near the perimeter of the scene at the Food Lion and was arrested.

Deputies from the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office, the Erwin Fire Department and Unicoi County EMS all assisted at the scene.

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