HENRY COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - An improvised explosive device was found at a Pendleton gas station, and people nearby want to know who planted it.
Kentucky State Police said an employee found the six-inch pipe bomb in an exterior trash can around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Pilot Flying J is located at 205 Pendleton Road.
Kentucky State Police Post 5 Campbellsburg responded and evacuated the building and cordoned off the surrounding area as a safety precaution. The store was evacuated and the perimeter of the building was secured.
A KSP Hazardous Device Unit was called in to examine the bomb. The device was deemed safe at 5:34 p.m. KSP said evidence was collected, and investigators interviewed employees and witnesses. Surveillance footage also was collected. The Pilot Truck Stop was reopened for business shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday. No one was hurt and no arrests have been made.
People who work at nearby businesses said the scene on Sunday was frightening, and they were worried about their safety.
"I was terrified because I thought I would go kaboom," a woman who wanted to remain anonymous said. "The officer comes to my car and tells me when they brung the bomb out, to lay down in the front seat and try to get as much protection as I could. There was a couple of other people there also and they told them the same thing."
"We have a gas tank behind there and they have big ones underground," Wingz-N-Thingz employee Bailey Howard said. "If that bomb would have went off, it would have exploded."
"You gotta keep your eyes open all the time because ya never know," Wingz-N-Thingz employee Whitney Hardin said.
"It's surprising. It really is," said Dale Whitaker, a lifelong resident of Henry County. "It was pretty scary, I'd say. Because nobody would think it would be this close to home. Even though it's a little pipe bomb, it's in a gas station."
Sitting outside Cowboys in Pendleton Tuesday afternoon, Whitaker said coming here for a quick bite is often a regular part of his week. He was here Sunday when police were clearing the area following their discovery of the IED.
"I just seen all the cops down there, and the people leaving and stuff because I got here right after they had dismantled or took care of it," Whitaker said. He worries police will have a hard time catching whoever did this because of the transient nature of the gas station and because of the location of where the pipe bomb was found.
KSP is investigating the case as a "Use of Weapon of Mass Destruction," which is a Class C Felony.
Also assisting in the investigation were the FBI's Hazardous Device Unit, LMPD Hazardous Device Unit, Lake Jericho Fire Department, Henry County Sheriff's Office and Henry County EMS.
Pilot issued a statement to WAVE 3 News on Monday:
Pilot Flying J has been a hot topic on social media for the past few weeks after a trucker posted a video claiming the company refused to fly the American flag. The claim has been widely debunked and the company is known to fly American flags prominently at its stores and its headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The company is privately owned by the Haslam family. The founder's son is Governor of Tennessee, and the current CEO owns the Cleveland Browns.
Pilot has been mired in a federal fraud investigation for the past five years. In February, a federal jury convicted three of the company's top executives in connection with a scheme to shortchange trucking companies on fuel rebates. Fourteen Pilot employees also pleaded guilty in the case, but no members of the Haslam family were ever implicated.