Former Highland Games employee faces attempted murder charges


Members representing the various Scottish clans line up for the torchlight ceremony at the opening ceremonies of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville, North Carolina, in 2016.


The former office manager of the popular Grandfather Mountain Highland Games was jailed for weapons felony and attempted murder this week after an improvised bomb was discovered at the Blue Ridge Mountain office.

Thomas Dewey Taylor, 43, was taken to 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 on Monday night, Sheriff Kevin Frye said.

Stephen Quillin, president of the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, said Taylor was fired as the organization’s office manager in August. Taylor’s arrest was linked to an incident at the Mitchell Avenue office in Linville, Quillin said.

SBI agents had been told that a former Highland Games employee was suspected of embezzling money and committing financial credit card theft.

During their investigation, they discovered an explosive device containing flammable liquids. The homemade bomb also attracted officers from the US 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, especially the Caber Throw, which involves throwing a 16-20 foot pole.

Organizers held the 65th annual games in July after COVID-19 triggered a year-long hiatus, and Taylor described the ‘changing of the clans’ torchlight ceremony for WFDD radio.

“The ceremonial, I think it’s really pretty,” Taylor says. “This is one of the best scenic events. When there’s fog up there, it’s actually prettier. They say if it rains up there it’s more authentic Scottish weather. This is what we have always said. It’s like you’re refueling. … because if you’ve been to Scotland it’s very similar to here.

This story was originally published September 28, 2021 2:08 pm.

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Jennifer R. Strohm

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