May 28, 2016 / 8:40 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. agents arrest suspect in 2007 North Carolina Walmart bombing

(Reuters) - A man suspected of planting a pipe bomb that exploded near propane tanks inside a Walmart store in rural North Carolina in 2007 has been arrested nine years after the crime thanks to dogged police work, court documents obtained on Saturday showed.

A fingerprint on a shopping cart led federal authorities to arrest Larry Bowlsby, 49, on Tuesday in Missouri, North Carolina television station WLOS reported on Thursday. The identification came nearly a decade after the explosion on Sept. 26, 2007 at a Walmart in Sylva, North Carolina, about 50 miles west of Asheville in the western part of the state.

The bomb exploded in the sporting goods section of the store near small camping propane cylinders, sending shrapnel from the device close to at least one shopper, according to the court filing, which did not address a possible motive.

Authorities found the fingerprint in a national database and matched it to Bowlsby, who had been arrested and fingerprinted in at least two separate cases since 2007, including possession of explosives at a Walmart in Colorado.

Bowlsby was charged with using an explosive device to damage or destroy a building or business, according to a federal court filing by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Federal Public Defender Office in St. Louis, which is representing the suspect, could not be immediately reached on Saturday. Federal authorities did not immediately return calls.

The Sylva Herald reported Thursday that the explosion occurred when few shoppers were inside the store that morning. Four people were treated for minor injuries and another person was taken to a hospital emergency room, the newspaper said.

The court document said Bowlsby had been charged with possession of an explosive or incendiary device on Dec. 28, 2009, in Sterling, Colorado, and accused of shoplifting at a Walmart store in Wyoming in 2014.

A photo from Bowlsby’s arrest in Colorado matched surveillance footage from the Walmart explosion in North Carolina that showed a suspect entering the store with two other people, an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said in the court document.

Reporting by Marcus E. Howard; Editing by David Gregorio

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