What was in Suspicious Package Detonated by SBI? - TribPapers

What was in Suspicious Package Detonated by SBI?

A member of the SBI bomb squad worked to detonate a suspicious package.


A suspicious package was delivered to Chad Nesbitt of Skyline News. Nesbitt believes the package to be part of a series of targeted attacks.

A suspicious package was recently received at a Leicester address by an independent news organization. That was the beginning of a not so typical afternoon.

Chad Nesbitt of Skyline News, a Facebook-based news media, received a package through FedEx on January 15 that didn’t seem quite right.  For months, Nesbitt has received threatening messages, trespassers and his family has been harassed because of his coverage of news other local media have ignored. It culminated last year with a physical attack that put him in the hospital. He told the Tribune he considered the package “suspicious” after noticing that the package was addressed to Methline News instead of Skyline News.

 “I thought, ‘OK this is going to be bad,” Nesbitt said. 

He called on the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office to investigate. 

After contacting the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, Nesbitt was told to evacuate the building. Two deputies showed up about 15 minutes later to investigate. They agreed that the package seemed suspicious and they called in the State Bureau of Investigation’s (SBI) bomb squad unit.

“The SBI came out. They had a bomb-sniffing dog. The dog got a hit of something strange.” Nesbitt said.

The SBI unit geared up in bomb protective equipment and x-rayed the package. They decided not to open but to detonate the package, digging a small hole in the ground and setting it off with a small charge. It turned out that the package was a glitter bomb gag with rubber dog poop set to fly out when opened.

Not a “prosecutable offense”

According to a taped call between Nesbitt and Buncombe County Detective William Small, Small said he and Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams agreed that such items are not considered a prosecutable offense. 

When asked about charges in an email with the Tribune, Williams told the newspaper, “Please ask law enforcement. Whether or not charges were taken will have to be confirmed by law enforcement.” Williams did not indicate that he was a part of the decision not to pursue charges. 

The Tribune attempted to reach Small for further details. Our inquiry was only acknowledged by Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Aaron Sarver. “The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office investigated the package sent to Mr. Nesbitt. No dangerous substances were found, and no criminal statutes were violated,” Sarver stated.

We asked follow-up questions including: 

Does the sheriff’s department investigation not indicate that there is a concerted and continuing effort underway by a person or persons to stop or intimidate Mr. Nesbitt from exercising his First Amendment rights and there could be a conspiracy on going to that end? 

Do investigators not believe after the life-threatening attack on Mr. Nesbitt and the numerous incidents of threats and trespassers that a greater effort to find out if there is a conspiracy might be warranted?” Sarver did not reply.

This isn’t the first time Nesbitt has received a suspicious package. There has been a pattern of intimidation while exercising his First Amendment right of freedom of the press.

Nesbitt has tackled issues that other news outlets will not cover. He has paid the price for his work to cover local Antifa groups, elected government officials and other newsworthy stories that many would rather remain unreported. 

According to Nesbitt, he has received numerous death threats, bullets in the mail and a sex toy with the message “F*ck you, Chad Nesbitt.” Fireworks were thrown into his yard and threats to burn down his barn were made. He and a bodyguard were attacked covering the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots in Asheville; this incident left him with a traumatic brain injury and nine days in the hospital, part of which were spent in ICU. He still has lasting effects from the attack, which he continues to recover from to this day. Nesbitt also told the Tribune that his family has received harassing phone calls and had to hire security guards at his property. 

He had to call sheriff’s deputies on 17 separate occasions. These occasions include calls to forcibly remove trespassers from his property, five warrants have for cyberstalking and one restraining order. Nesbitt believes there is enough to show a pattern of intimidation to try and stop him from exercising his first amendment rights. 

When asked if he believes that the package was part of a coordinated effort to intimidate him, Nesbitt responded, “It’s all a coordinated effort from the things in the mail, to getting hit in the head and knocked unconscious. It’s all a coordinated effort.”

Double standard in the justice system?

Nesbitt is troubled by his experience with the justice system.

Nesbitt claims that a person who was at the scene of his attack, and has been arrested several times, is now running for Hendersonville City Council. 

“He was seen at the attack, we have pictures of him at the attack…I certainly hope the Asheville Police Department goes and speaks with this guy,” Nesbitt said.

“I keep getting the runaround from law enforcement… it’s the same type of thing when I try and contact the City of Asheville about allowing Antifa to protest without a permit. Nobody wants to answer that question. It’s amazing to me the silence you get from APD, the sheriff’s office and the City of Asheville,” Nesbitt reflected.

“You got [the NC State Attorney General] Josh Steins asking who was in Washington DC at the time [of the US Capital riots] and making them out to be terrorists, but when it comes to Antifa, none of the local law enforcement wants to fool with it. They come out and investigate a little, but they won’t follow-up,” Nesbitt said.

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