YORK -- A York County man, his son and nephew are among four men arrested Thursday after authorities said they planned to detonate a bomb at a Charlotte school to divert police so they could rob a credit union.
The men planned to rob a Founders Federal Credit Union branch on Westinghouse Boulevard in Charlotte, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant said during a press conference Thursday at the sheriff's office in York.
Bryant said he believed the bombing and robbery were planned for Thursday.
"It could have been a real catastrophe," he said.
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Pipe bombs were real devices
Police seized two pipe bombs. Both were defused, but Bryant could not say what the bombs were made of.
"They weren't fake devices," Bryant said. "Someone knew how to put these pipe bombs together."
Charged with first-degree burglary, possession/manufacture of explosive devices and criminal conspiracy were:
• Timothy Wayne Eddington, 35, of 113 S. Sutton Road, Fort Mill;
• Steven Michael Eddington, 18, of 205 Cantrell Ave., Fort Mill;
• William Christopher Puckett, 19, of 1620 Quail Rush Drive, Rock Hill; and
• Edgar Scott Williams IV, 19, of 344 Lakeshore Drive, Fort Mill.
The charges against the men stem in part from outstanding warrants and a tip received Wednesday by CrimeStoppers of York County, Bryant said. Authorities, including the SWAT team, responded around midnight to 3175 U.S. 21 in Fort Mill, where they found the men sleeping on the floor of what was a vacant house, Bryant said.
"They had broken into the house and were using it to make their plans to rob a bank," Bryant said. "We're not sure how long they were living there. They were able to get the power turned on, not through the normal means. They tampered with the meter."
Officials found the "fused devices," which were disarmed, Bryant said.
"They had been planning this for some time," he said.
The school where the men planned to detonate the pipe bombs is a mystery, Bryant said. He also could not speculate how much damage the bombs could have done.
The Eddingtons and Puckett also face charges unrelated to Thursday's arrest. Timothy Eddington, a self-employed contractor, faces four counts of obtaining property by false pretense and breach of trust of more than $5,000, according to multiple reports from the Sheriff's Office.
Eddington's son, Steven Eddington, faces first- and second-degree burglary charges as well as larceny, possession of burglary tools and receiving stolen goods. Puckett faces the same charges with the exception of receiving stolen goods, according to the report.
A criminal history shows charges against the elder Eddington range from driving under a suspended license and resisting police to receiving stolen goods and multiple counts of breach of trust, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
The report reflects Steven Eddington, who was a student last year at Fort Mill High School, had a previous drug-related charge.
Williams, who withdrew as an 11th-grader last year from Rock Hill High School, also was previously arrested on a drug-related charge.
Puckett, Timothy Eddington's nephew, previously was arrested for contempt of family court and criminal domestic violence, according to SLED.
When The Herald talked with several family members about the arrests, Sherry Eddington, who identified herself as the mother of Steven Eddington and the ex-wife of Timothy Eddington, said the role of her son and the two other young men, Puckett and Williams, was being overblown.
Another woman, who said she was Puckett's mother and Timothy Eddington's sister, declined to comment.
The men and bombs were found in an area booming with residential and commercial growth. U.S. 21 near the incident site is a main north-south route to and from Charlotte and is the entry point for hundreds of homes in the Twin Lakes and Regent Park neighborhoods.
The allegations of the plot stunned adjacent business owners on U.S. 21. Jack Sheppard, who owns the Aim Right gun and ammunition store in the building next to the house on U.S. 21, said he hadn't seen anyone at the house recently.
Jon Blankenship, owner of nearby New South Auto Repair, said the house had been empty for months.
Blankenship, who has lived in the area his entire life, called the incident "a huge shock to this community." Pipe bombs make him think of "big-time terrorists, not small town Fort Mill," he said.
Both Blankenship and Sheppard, who lives in Regent Park, praised deputies and the SWAT team for swift action before anyone was hurt.
"They got 'em quick," Sheppard said. "The York County Sheriff's Office really works."
Starlee Paulin, who lives at 205A Cantrell Ave. in Fort Mill, next door to 205 Cantrell Ave. -- the address arrest warrants show for Steven Eddington -- said the arrest of a neighbor allegedly connected to a plot using explosives scared her.
"What if they were fooling around with them and they blow up?" Paulin asked.
Paulin's son, Ed Paulin, who also lives at 205A Cantrell Ave., said, "To me, that's terrorism, and I shouldn't have to live next door to terrorists."
The men remained in jail at the York County Detention Center on Thursday. Bond had not been set.