By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)——————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Westminster area man over the weekend on multiple offenses, including drug and explosives charges.
24 year old Steven Matthew Neal of 557 Levi Lane in Westminster was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 6:01pm this past Saturday. According to warrants, Neal has been charged with possession of a controlled substance (diazepam), possession of 1.4 grams of methamphetamine, and possession of a pipe bomb, which consisted of a PVC pipe and an electric fuse.
According to deputies, dispatch advised deputies to be on the lookout for a white colored sedan that had left the Dollar General on Wells Highway Saturday morning with three male passengers inside. One subject was reportedly acting suspiciously and one subject was reportedly wearing body armor.
An Oconee County Sheriff’s deputy spotted a vehicle matching that description on Highway 123 and got behind the vehicle on Radio Station Road near Seneca. Due to the fact that it matched the vehicle description given by dispatch and the fact that the vehicle’s headlights were not on and it was raining, the deputy performed a traffic stop and the vehicle pulled into an address on Stork Way.
The deputy asked the driver for his license, registration, and proof of insurance which was provided. During the questioning of the individuals in the car, one of the passengers showed the deputy a bullet proof vest that was sitting on the floorboard beneath his feet. The officer noticed that a passenger in the back seat, identified as Neal, was acting nervously and making a lot of unnecessary movements. The deputy also observed that Neal had a knife on his side, whereupon the deputy had Neal step out of the vehicle to remove the knife, upon which Neal returned to the car.
Two other deputies arrived on the scene, where consent was given by the driver to search the vehicle. As the passengers in the car were searched after exiting the vehicle, deputies found on Neal a PVC pipe wrapped in electrical tape with a fuse coming out of the top that appeared to deputies to be a pipe bomb. Deputies also found an empty PVC pipe with electrical tape and a rag inside the PVC pipe. A fuse container was also found on Neal in his right shoe that contained a plastic baggie with a clear substance inside.
Deputies also found upon searching the vehicle another clear plastic baggie and one orange pill inside the glove compartment. Neal told deputies that the clear plastic baggies belonged to him.
Members of the Anderson County Bomb Squad arrived on the scene and rendered the reported pipe bomb safe and returned it to the deputy, where it was placed into evidence. Also placed into evidence by deputies was the body armor, which one of the other individuals said he was wearing in the Dollar General store to get Neal.
The other two individual in the vehicle were released and Neal was then transported to the Oconee County Detention Center. Neal is still being held at the Detention Center on a combined $40,000 surety bond.
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation.