Free Daily Headlines

News

Set your text size: A A A

Police charge man with 'felony hoax' in package explosion at UPS store

Police say man in hooded coat and another in white shirt are wanted in connection with an explosion at the UPS store in Southside Square. Police say man in hooded coat and another in white shirt are wanted in connection with an explosion at the UPS store in Southside Square.

Hendersonville police detectives charged a man with setting off a device that released white powder at a package delivery store on Friday.

After their investigation, detectives charged Christopher Murray, 38, of Hendersonville, with felony perpetrating a hoax. Murray was taken into custody without incident and jailed on a $10,000 bond. The investigation is ongoing and further charges are pending. Explosives experts identified the powder as a product of a "pepper ball self-defense device," the city said in a news release at 9 o'clock Friday night. Police did not identify a second man who was with Murray.

Investigators immediately began searching for two men who walked into the UPS store at Southside Square shopping center and detonated a package or cannister that gave off a white powder Friday morning. Surveillance video showed a man in a hooded coat, on a day when temperatures reached 80 degrees, and the other in a long-sleeved white dress shirt in the store on Friday morning.

The small explosion and release of powder triggered a large response from fire departments and police. First responders included Hendersonville and Asheville firefighters, two Asheville-based hazardous materials units and crew, sheriff's deputies and city police. The incident happened at the UPS store in a strip of retail stores in the Spartanburg Highway shopping center anchored by Harris Teeter. Police and fire officials on the scene said they were not yet releasing information on what happened.

Police cordoned off the entire parking lot in front of the UPS store and seven other retailers. The delivery store is flanked by Wild Birds Unlimited and Jimmy John's subway sandwich shop.

Marlaina Garman, CEO of UPS stores in Western North Carolina, speaks with officers.Marlaina Garman, CEO of UPS stores in Western North Carolina, speaks with officers."At 9:48 this morning we had two customers come into our store. They were acting suspiciously," Marlaina Garman, CEO for seven Western North Carolina UPS stores, said on the scene at 1 p.m. "There was no package that made it in the store and everyone is safe at this time and the authorities are investigating." Two employees were in the store at the time.

"From what I understand, somebody walked in with a package and some sort of cannister, blew it up and a white powder came out," said Carey O'Cain, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited. "I did speak with one of the lieutenants before I left. They have him on film and they're chasing that person down. ... I was in the store next door. They said it made a pop but I never heard anything."

The city reported a different time for the incident and said the suspect had left the package in the store.

"Shortly after 11 a.m., an individual walked into the UPS store," the city said in a news release. "The individual left a suspicious package. The package detonated and dispersed an unknown, white powder into the building. The building was evacuated, and police and fire personnel responded to the scene."

Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to contact Detective Malinda Durner with the Hendersonville Police Department at (828) 697-3046. The public may also submit anonymous tips through the Hendersonville Police Department app, which can be downloaded in the Apple App Store for iOS devices or Google Play for Android devices.