Police confirm 2 pipe bomb devices found at Hickory church, suspect arrested

Hickory Police Department requested the assistance of the FBI, the Gaston County Bomb Squad and the Gastonia Bomb Squad.
Hickory Police Department requested the assistance of the FBI, the Gaston County Bomb Squad and the Gastonia Bomb Squad.
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 10:33 AM EDT|Updated: May. 8, 2023 at 12:33 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) – The Hickory Police Department confirmed two “pipe bomb-type” devices were found at a church in Hickory on Sunday afternoon and have identified the suspect believed to be responsible. The suspect has since been arrested and several law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation and subsequent arrest.

“Hickory Police Officers responded to the Market Place Church, 2936 Hwy 127 S in reference to two pipe bomb type devices that had been delivered to the church by Joshua Wayne Hawley (37 years old),” according to the police department.

According to the Hickory Police Department, officers were called to the MarketPlace Church on N.C.127 in reference to the suspicious devices. Police said Hawley fled the area before officers arrived at the church.

WBTV reached out to the church for comment. The church responded “we are currently praying for all involved in this sad event. Law enforcement has asked that we refrain from commenting until the investigation is completed.”

Hickory Police confirmed Hawley was identified as the person responsible for shooting a dog in 2021 at a Caldwell County store. Later video evidence revealed the dog had ‘charged and lunged aggressively’ at Hawley, according to the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office.

Joshua Wayne Hawley
Joshua Wayne Hawley(Caldwell County Jail)

“Upon arrival, officers evacuated the immediate area and the assistance of the F.B.I., Gaston County Police Bomb Squad and the Gastonia Police Bomb Squad was requested. The devices were rendered safe by the bomb squads and evidence was collected,” according to HPD.

“During the investigation, it was determined that Hawley was located at a residence in Burke County. Law Enforcement Officers from the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, Morganton Department of Public Safety, Gaston County Police Bomb Squad, Gastonia Police Bomb Squad, A.T.F. and F.B.I. assisted with serving a search warrant and arrest warrant,” according to HPD.

On Monday, Hawley was arrested and is charged with Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, possible additional charges are pending.

“Anyone with information regarding this ongoing investigation is encouraged to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551 or contact R. Helderman directly at 828-261-2621 or rhelderman@hickorync.gov.”

Download the free WBTV News app for updates as they come in.

Watch continuing live coverage here: