DOBSON — On Sunday, several pounds of black powder and the makings of explosive devices were found in an outbuilding at the home of a man who was killed in a shootout with a Dobson police officer on July 23.
According to Dobson Police Chief Shawn Myers, the department received a call in reference to a suspicious package at 412 Adams St., the home where Lonnie Badgett was fatally wounded by Officer Brian Thomas. Thomas fired on Badgett after he shot the officer twice in the leg.
Myers said when the officer arrived on the scene Sunday and looked at the package, he thought it could have been some type of explosive.
“I then went out and looked at it. I observed canisters of black powder. It appeared to be some sort of explosive device,” said Myers.
He said since Surry County does not have a bomb squad, he called in the Wilkes County bomb squad for precautionary reasons. He said four Wilkes officers entered the building wearing bomb suits and got everything out of the structure.
He said in addition to finding black powder, smokeless pistol powder and the precursors to build other types of explosive devices were found.
Myers said Badgett’s wife, Leesa Jones, turned over the evidence so that it could be disposed of properly. He said Jones was in the process of moving when her son went to clean the building out. That’s when he discovered the suspicious materials.
“I guess if he were alive, there would be a lot more to it,” said Myers.
According to Jones, she found 8,000 .308-caliber bullets as well.
She said the reason she was preparing to move is because the home is owned by her late husband’s parents. She said she got an ejection notice from them and will be appearing in court to fight that request today.
Despite giving conflicting statements about her husband’s behavior, yesterday Jones said her husband was a quiet, God-fearing man. She said he was an avid gun builder and a competition shooter. She said one indicator that something of this nature would be found was on May 9 when she found out he was planning to harm his ex-wife and Judge Angela Puckett over an equitable distribution matter. She said he threatened to blow up the courthouse at that time, but after talking to him, she knew he wouldn’t go through with it.
She said following his death, she cried constantly not understanding what made him snap.
Original reports said that he was upset about the care of the couple’s dogs while they were away at the beach. Jones confirmed that when they got home from the beach on July 22, their newly laid floors were covered in feces. She said he went into a rage because his daughter and her friend, who had promised to look after the dogs, did not do what they said they would do.
“I have never in my life seen someone so angry,” said Jones.
She said she put the dogs in their kennels and started cleaning. She asked her husband to go for a ride on his motorcycle to cool off, but he was only gone a short time. When he returned, he was still upset, Jones said, so she asked him to go visit his mother. She said he did and that allowed her to make some progress with the cleanup, but, he still returned home angry.
Jones then said her sister called and offered that Jones should come over to her house until he cooled down.
Jones returned home from her sister’s at 12:42 a.m. on July 23. She said he punched her in the mouth. That’s when she said he hit her in the head with a piano bench which knocked her out. When she awoke, she said, he was standing in doorway with the phone in one hand, after calling 911, and a gun in the other hand.
“He hit me on the head with the gun,” said Jones.
She said he shot at her twice, but neither bullet struck her. She was dragged off the porch of the home that morning by Officer Thomas, according to previous reports of the shooting.
Jones said the autopsy showed that there were no drugs or alcohol in his system. She said the only thing medically wrong with him at the time of the shooting, according to the report, was that he had arterial sclerosis.
She said she changed her name back to Jones following the shooting because of the way people looked at her after hearing the news reports.
During the July 23 incident, more than 13 shots were fired in the 30-second gun battle, according to Myers. After the smoke cleared, there were 11 bullet indentations in Thomas’ patrol car — two of Badgett’s rounds struck Thomas.
Thomas is still recovering and has not returned to work.
Members of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Surry County Emergency Services, Dobson Fire and Rescue also responded to the Adams Street residence on Sunday due to the nature of the call.
Contact Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.