Ex-Highland Games employee faces attempted murder charges
The former office manager of the popular Grandfather Mountain Highland Games was jailed for felony weapons and attempted murder this week after an improvised bomb was found at the games’ Blue Ridge mountain office.
Thomas Dewey Taylor, 43, was taken to the Avery County Jail on bail set at $1 million. The state Bureau of Investigation charged him with possession of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder Monday night, Sheriff Kevin Frye said.
Stephen Quillin, chairman of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, said Taylor was removed as the organization’s office manager in August. Taylor’s arrest was related to an incident at the Mitchell Avenue office in Linville, Quillin said.
SBI officers had been informed that a former Highland Games employee was suspected of embezzling money and committing credit card theft.
During their investigation, they found an explosive device containing flammable liquids. The pipe bomb also attracted agents from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games feature traditional Gaelic music, drumming and dancing, but are best known for their Scottish-style sporting challenges, particularly the caber toss, which involves throwing a pole 16 to 20 feet.
Organizers staged the 65th annual games in July after COVID-19 triggered a year-long hiatus, and Taylor described the ‘raising of the clans’ torchlight ceremony to WFDD radio station.
“The ceremonial, I think, is really pretty,” Taylor says. “It’s one of the best scenic events. When it’s foggy up there, it’s actually prettier. They say if it rains up there it’s more authentic Scottish weather. That’s what we’ve always said. It’s as if you were filling up. … Because if you’ve ever been to Scotland, it’s very similar to here.
This story was originally published September 28, 2021 2:08 p.m.