Man killed after bomb explodes
Bill Rosenberger/ The Herald-Dispatch
BARBOURSVILLE, WV -- A man was killed early Saturday morning after a bomb exploded outside a bar in Barboursville.
The explosion was reported at about 2:30 a.m. outside Cactus Joe's in the 6000 block of U.S. 60, across from Kroger and Tower Food Fair.
Emergency crews and law enforcement officials called to the scene shut down U.S. 60 and detoured motorists onto East Pea Road until about 10 a.m.
Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas also said that 20 to 30 residents in the immediate vicinity were evacuated, while surrounding businesses that were open or had employees inside were put into a shelter in place.
Few other details were released by officials, but McComas said the man who died was believed to have brought explosive devices to the area.
The West Virginia State Police Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit was present throughout most of the ordeal and actually detonated three different suspicious items -- at about 4 a.m., 7:55 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. -- behind the neighboring Napa Auto Parts store.
"They were rendering safe any items deemed suspicious," McComas said.
McComas said the investigation is in its infancy. But some information also was being kept sealed for now because of its sensitive nature and its effect on the investigation, including the man's identity, the nature of his fatal injuries, whether his residence had been searched and any statements given by those inside the bar.
One patron, who asked that his name not be used, said he is a regular at Cactus Joe's but had never seen the man before the incident.
The patron said he arrived at about 10:45 p.m. and was with his brother until 1 a.m. At that point, he walked outside with his brother and saw the man in back of the bar and acting suspiciously. But since the Cabell County smoking ban was enacted earlier this year, he said it's not out of the ordinary for people to be smoking behind the bar.
At about 2:30 a.m., he said there was a loud bang, similar to a gunshot. He said he ran out back with others and found the man lying in a pool of blood.
"We saw another pipe bomb laying about five feet from him," the patron said. "We tried to keep everyone back."
The patron said there were rumors about what the man was doing there but he didn't want to speculate. He did, however, say that the man was identified to him as the ex-husband of another bar patron.
He added that he was not questioned by law enforcement, whom he described as more worried about getting the patrons to safety.
It's not known if anyone shopping or working at the 24-hour Kroger nearby was questioned or saw anything. The store's manager said she couldn't comment without permission from someone from the corporate office. Officials in the media relations department with Kroger did not immediately respond to phone calls or e-mails Saturday afternoon.
Holly Merritt, assistant manager of the Food Fair, said there were a couple of stock workers in the grocery store when the incident took place. A few other workers went through an alley to get to work before the larger stretch of U.S. 60 was shut down.
As far as she knows, no employees were questioned by authorities. They were only asked to stay inside.
Merritt, whose shift was supposed to start at 7 a.m., was stranded down the street in the parking lot of a business on the corner of U.S. 60 and Farmdale Road, where two other coworkers also waited out the ordeal Saturday morning.
The store opened at 10 a.m., about 10 minutes after traffic started flowing again.
In addition to the state police and sheriff's office, there also were members of the Barboursville Police and Volunteer Fire departments and members of the state fire marshal's office at the scene.
McComas said he didn't expect any new details to be released Saturday.