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2 accused of igniting explosive devices in downtown Asheville; Persons of interest sought

By Kristy Kepley-Steward

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Two people arrested in connection with “explosive hazardous devices” found in downtown Asheville are accused of setting off those devices at the site of a former monument. Now, police are looking for those who may have information about the incident.

On Monday, July 4, at around 11 p.m., the Asheville Police Department (APD) reported that its bomb squad was responding to the area of Biltmore and Patton Avenue for a possible explosive device.

In a press release, APD says Chioke Auden Fugate, 23, and Duncan Andrew Small, 30, have been accused of igniting “improvised explosive devices at Pack Square at the site of the former Vance Monument as spectators were departing the July 4th Independence Day Celebration.” The department adds that the devices were “IEDs similar to pipe bombs.”

Fugate has been charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction and going armed to the terror of the public. Fugate’s bond is set at $15,000.

Small has been charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, discharging a firearm in city limits and going armed to the terror of the public. Small’s bond is set at $16,000.

Police say both were arrested around the 100 block of South Pack Square.

APD says witnesses at the scene told officers they had overheard Small say he was going to attempt to blow up the remnants of the monument. No one was injured during the explosion.

Once APD’s bomb squad was on scene, they located remnants of an exploded IED at Pack Square. Nearly two hours later, police said the scene had been safely cleared.

“The size of the device used and nature of the energetic materials therein presented a clear threat to human life, especially in light of its use in such a densely populated area,” Capt. Joe Silberman, APD’s bomb squad commander, said in a press release.

A bag belonging to Small was located, police say, which contained zip-tie handcuffs and a two-way radio. Officials also found a ballistic vest, pistol and ammunition, and a flare gun and ammunition in Small’s vehicle.

Leather gloves and a gas mask belonging to Fugate were discovered during the investigation as well.

Asheville police confirmed on Tuesday that Smalls and Fugate were the same demonstrators officials were trying to identify from a previous protest. Small was charged and arrested with weapons violations for that incident and “Fugate confessed to wearing a ballistic vest,” police said.

“This sort of activity around a large crowd could have been deadly, so we are grateful it didn’t turn out worse last night,” said APD’s Chief David Zack in a news release.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, Asheville police released a photograph of persons of interest being sought for questioning in the incident. They said the people in the photo may have information regarding the explosion.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. Anyone with any information regarding the incident or persons of interest in the matter is asked to reach out to authorities.

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