Valentines Day started with a bang when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation detonated a suspicious package that was discovered in Newton Plaza.
According to Covington Police Department officials, Kevin Johnson, 28, of Oxford, was arrested in the case and charged with terroristic threats, aggravated assault and possession of a hoax device.
"He believed it to be a bomb," said Covington Police Detective D.J. Seals. "It was not a bomb, but that is what he believed it to be."
The package, a yellow envelope with red writing, was found around at 9:15 a.m. between Wain and Company Barber Shop and State Farm Insurance by a store owner, according to Seals.
"As they opened the store, they found the package," Seals said. "They called us and alerted us to the situation."
Seals said CPD officers arrived at around 9:25 a.m. and, after investigating the package, determined the GBI Bomb Disposal Unit needed to be called in on the case.
While waiting for the unit to arrive, CPD officers secured the scene, clearing and taping off several businesses in the strip mall.
By 11:15 a.m., the BDU's REMOTEC Andros brand robot was deployed to remove the package from the front of the stores to an alley in the rear of the plaza. Once the package was safely situated between the brick building's backside and a concrete barrier, CPD officers shut down traffic on U.S. Highway 278.
After arming the robot, the BDU was ready for detonation. At 11:40 a.m., the BDU robot shot the envelope with what Seals said was a round similar to a shotgun shell. The envelope erupted into a confetti-like cloud of paper and other material, but nothing that would cause an explosion.
Johnson was arrested at 11:20 a.m., Seals said.
"Along with some other writing, which we are going to hold for court, he had written his name and address on the envelope," Seals said. Once the BDU examines the remains of the package, the CPD will take over the investigation.
Seals said the city had not had this sort of incident since Barron Hays Harper Jr., 60, a Covington resident and City of Covington Gas Department employee, allegedly left a suspicious package at a water tower in October 2006. Though that package did not explode, Seals said there was detonation cord found inside it.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the CPD at 770-786-7605. Tips can be given to the CPD anonymously by visiting their Web site at www.covingtonpolice.com and clicking on "contact us" and then "secret witness."