Police charge man after finding explosive device in his car   

By Abby Morris
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  A Piney Flats man was arrested early Tuesday morning on charges of public intoxication, and while police searched his vehicle prior to it being towed, they found an improvised explosive device in the trunk.
  William Puckett, 21, 447 Bay Hill Dr., Piney Flats, was additionally charged with possession of explosive components and possession of prohibited weapons.
  According to reports, officers of the Elizabethton Police Department were dispatched to Burgie Drug Store at 1000 West G St. at approximately 4:15 a.m. on a call about a suspicious subject who was reportedly sitting underneath a tree at the business.
  EPD Patrol Officer Patrick White was the first officer on the scene, and he parked his police cruiser in the drive-thru lane at the drug store and exited the vehicle to begin searching the area. "Upon arrival of other units, a blue Honda Accord was noticed parked behind Ptl. White's cruiser. The Honda Accord had pulled up behind White's cruiser after he had exited," states a press release issued by EPD Chief Roger Deal. "When back-up officers arrived on scene, a white male was noticed standing in front of the Honda sitting on the hood crying."
  Police noticed Puckett smelled of alcohol and that his eyes were red and he was unsteady on his feet.
  He told officers that he had been driving down the road crying and had pulled in behind White's cruiser because he had not been able to see very well due to his crying. "Mr. Puckett stated he was upset because he had a friend who was intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle who was killed recently," EPD Ptl. Michael McIntosh states in his report. "He also stated that one of his friends he was with tonight was intoxicated and started driving, which upset him even more, causing him to cry to the point that he could not see to drive his 1991 Honda."
  Police asked Puckett to submit to a series of field sobriety tests which he performed poorly. "Mr. Puckett was a danger to himself and others and was placed under arrest for his safety," states McIntosh in his report.
  While officers were conducting an inventory search of Puckett's vehicle prior to it being towed from the Burgie Drug Store parking lot, they discovered what they believed to be a hand grenade in the trunk of the vehicle. "There were also many military- type articles in the vehicle along with 56 .22 (caliber) rounds and two shotgun shells," states McIntosh in his report. "Mr. Puckett advised he was in ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) at ETSU (East Tennessee State University) and advised that the grenade was a 'dummy.'"
  The Johnson City Police Department Bomb Squad was advised of the situation and responded to the scene. "Upon dismantling the device, (JCPD) Sgt. (Brian) Rice stated that the grenade was an improvised explosive device," states McIntosh. "The grenade contained Hercules Red Dot Smokeless Powder. It also had a carriage bolt through the bottom and retaining clip and pin in the top. The device appeared to only be lacking primer."
  In addition to the grenade, officers also found a bag containing Hercules Red Dot Smokeless Powder, an empty box of 5.56mm blank ammunition and a 2001 Science Hill High School yearbook. "The yearbook contained several statements by Mr. Puckett's classmates referring to his fondness of blowing things up," states McIntosh in his report.
  An investigation into the incident is ongoing.