Hoax bomb left at Asheville, N.C., federal building Man Charged

ASHEVILLE, N.C. --

Police say a man has been charged after leaving a hoax explosive at the Federal Building in Asheville and a series of notes at banks throughout downtown that led authorities to him.

The Asheville Police Department's Bomb Squad was called to the Federal Building on Patton Avenue shortly before noon Tuesday about a suspicious package.

The package was near the doors of the main rear entrance to the building. After evacuating the building and rerouting downtown traffic away from surrounding streets, the bomb squad used an X-ray machine to see if the device was explosive. They were unable to definitively rule out explosives, so the bomb squad used a robot and a water cannon to break the device apart.

Once the components of the package were separated, it was determined that the item was a hoax device.

Based on evidence recovered at the scene, APD detectives followed up with a potential suspect who had been leaving notes at banks throughout the downtown area.

After an interview of the suspect, 66-year-old Ernest Osborne McDonald, he was charged with perpetrating a hoax by use of a false bomb or other device.

McDonald is being held at the Buncombe County Detention Facility on a $20,000 bond.

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