Ex-manager of Highland Games federally charged for 2021 attempted bombing

NEWLAND, N.C. — Channel 9 has learned new details in the case of a man accused of plotting to blow up an SBI agent.

Thomas Dewey Taylor, the former office manager of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, was arrested in late September 2021 by state law enforcement officials and faces charges including three counts of attempted first-degree murder, authorities said.

On Friday, authorities added federal charges in the case. Taylor is schedule to appear in court on March 1 on those charges.

Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye said Taylor, 43, was booked into the county jail on charges of possession of a weapon of mass destruction in addition to the attempted murder charges.

Taylor was charged by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. He is accused of making an IED to kill three people.

The sheriff said he couldn’t provide more information because the SBI brought the charges.

“We were very, very fortunate here in Avery County that no one was hurt that no one was critically injured,” Frye said. “To me, this was a God thing. He was blessing us greatly.”

Warrant: Taylor bought bomb-making materials at Family Dollar

Angie Grube, spokeswoman for the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, said Taylor was suspected of embezzling money and committing financial credit card theft. Grube said an investigation turned up an improvised explosive device with ignitable liquids.

Warrants obtained by Channel 9 said Taylor bought the ingredients, including everything from lighter fluid to a hot plate, at a Family Dollar. The search warrant was for his home in Avery County, where SBI agents went to look for evidence of shrapnel, batteries and combustible liquids.

Thomas Dewey Taylor, a former employee who served as general manager of office operations with the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games was arrested on Monday, Sept. 27.

Taylor’s arrest was connected to an incident at the office in Linville, said Stephen Quillin, president of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Quillin said Taylor was dismissed as office manager in August 2021.

The sheriff said officials with the Highland Games contacted the sheriff’s office about more than $10,000 missing.

The court documents said three days before finding the explosive device, Quillin met with deputies about the embezzlement case involving Taylor, who at one time worked for the Highland Games.

When they went to the offices several days later, workers found the power cut off. An SBI agent also found “multiple pyrotechnics with fuses connected to a hot plate which was plugged into a power outlet in the closet.”

The SBI agent later found a hot plate at the Family Dollar where the store said they sold three cans of lighter fluid to Taylor.

Channel 9 learned that the embezzlement involved as much as $20,000. Taylor has not been charged in connection with the missing money, but deputies said he is a person of interest.

Nearby businesses were forced to shut down for safety reasons.

“One of the officers told me there were explosives and that it was dangerous, and I needed to leave,” said Tim Berry, at Pixie Salon.

Taylor was jailed on a $500,000 bond, but prosecutors asked the judge to raise the bond to $1 million.

The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games resumed in July 2021 after missing 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It features traditional Gaelic entertainment and is also known for its Scottish-style athletic competitions, including the caber toss in which a contestant throws a 16- to 20-foot pole.

(WATCH BELOW: Ex-manager of Highland Games charged with attempted murder)