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Morgantown man arrested after making fake bomb to ‘get a reaction’

A Morgantown man was arrested Saturday after falsely reporting a bomb in the parking lot of Dollar General on Cheat Road.

Monongalia County Sheriff’s Deputy Reginald Martin Jr. was dispatched to the store for a “suspicious event,” the criminal complaint said.

Once on scene the deputy made contact with a man working inside the store who was later identified as Owen Christopher Richards, 19, of Morgantown. According to the complaint, Richards stated he walked outside and observed what appeared to be a bomb lying in a mud puddle. 

Martin reported he observed what appeared to be a bomb sitting next to the rear driver-side tire of a vehicle that had three children in the back seat.

The deputy said he instinctively picked up the device and threw it into an open parking lot and began to tape off the scene.

While interviewing Richards about the device, Martin stated he began to give signs that he had more involvement or knew more about the incident.  

At that time, Martin said he read Richards his Miranda Rights and began a further interview.

After conducting the in-depth interview with Richards he stated that he did “make and place the device in the parking lot” and that he did it to “get a reaction.”

Sheriff’s department officials said the device was determined to be a sparkler bomb, which is created by binding multiple sticks of the handheld firework together, leaving one extended as a fuse. 

Officials confirmed the device created by Richards was rendered safe by a West Virginia State Police explosives tech.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) was also notified.

Richards was charged with making false reports concerning bombs or other explosive devices, and was released from custody after posting a $30,000 bond.

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