A Harlem man was arrested Monday after authorities tried to blow up his charging cell phone thinking it was an incendiary device.
William Edward Gillis, 40, of Lamkin Road, was charged with criminal trespass and theft of services, according to Harlem Police Department Chief Gary Jones.
Jones said the owner of property leased to Providence Presbyterian Church at 709 W. Milledgeville Road called police just after 11 a.m. when he discovered a blue plastic coffee can under the church sign near the road just after 11 a.m. A wire was coming out of a hole and was taped to the side of the can. The cord ran several feet to a nearby electrical plug.
“All the criteria (for an incendiary device) was there,” Jones said. “We certainly weren’t going to tamper with it.”
Traffic was diverted away from the area for about an hour.
Jones said he the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad was called in and attempted unsuccessfully to detonate the device. Authorities had information that something like a cell phone might have been inside the can, but none of the residents who live in mobile homes behind the church knew about it.
As a the Bomb Squad attempted to detonate the can a third time, Jones said Gillis called authorities and told them his cell phone was inside the can. Gillis, who also lives behind the church, said he doesn’t have electricity and was charging his cell phone. He went with authorities and opened the can revealing his cell phone.
Gillis was being held in the Columbia County Detention Center Tuesday on a $1,520 bond, according to jail records.