COVINGTON - A suspicious Valentine's Day package threw a local shopping center and parts of U.S. Highway 278 into chaos Thursday.
The man who allegedly planted the package, Kevin Lashon Johnson, 28, of Oxford reportedly wrote his name and address on the outside of the envelope and was quickly taken into custody by police.
According to Det. Daniel Seals, spokesman for the Covington Police Department, the package, which appeared to be a manila envelope with writing on it, was discovered between Wain and Company barber shop and State Farm Insurance in the Newton Plaza shopping center shortly after 9 a.m.
Minutes later, police contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and began an evacuation of the area. The GBI's bomb squad arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and with the aid of a bomb disposal robot, detonated the package behind the building.
U.S. Highway 278 was shut down for several minutes in both directions as authorities worked to dispose of the device.
Seals said it didn't take long for police to locate Johnson, as he was taken into custody before the package was even detonated.
A search of Johnson's residence in the College Walk Apartments revealed components used to make the device, as well as the writing instruments he allegedly used on the outside of the envelope, according to the CPD spokesman.
Seals declined to comment of what the exact components of the device were or what the writing on the outside of the envelope said with the exception of the name and address.
Though the device was found to be a hoax, Seals said investigators believe the suspect may have believed it to be real.
"We do have reason to believe that (Johnson) believed it to be a bomb," he said.
According to police, Johnson was seen regularly by people around the shopping plaza.
Johnson has been charged with making terroristic threats, aggravated assault and possession of a hoax device in connection with the incident.
As of press time Thursday, the suspect was still being interviewed at CPD headquarters.
Following the interview, Seals said Johnson would be taken to the Newton County Detention Center and booked under the aforementioned charges.
Seals said he didn't expect Johnson would be granted bond until he appears before a judge due to the nature of the charges.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.