A Central Florida man was arrested after police said he made threats outside a hardware store. It all started out as a "suspicious male" call to 9-1-1. According to authorities, Hilliard, who hadn't been identified at the time was apparently making employees nervous as he hung near the outside of the lumber department entrance at the Lowes located at 34213 Washington Avenue. Once Leesburg Police arrived they found James Edward Hilliard sitting on the curb, applying duct tape to what appeared to be a "Molotov Cocktail" in that same area.
This "suspicious device" as officers are calling it was described as an item in the shape of a bottle, wrapped with gray tape, and having with what appeared to be a paper fuse coming out from one end. Detectives said the device also appeared to have a secondary object on one side of the bottle shape that could not be seen due to it being covered with tape.
Due the suspicious nature of the device and for the safety of customers of the business, it was removed from Hilliard`s possession. When questioned by officers about the contents of the bottles he stated that there was an accelerant to send a rocket to outer space.
During the initial search of Hilliard, detectives say they found a straight edge razor that was observed to be opened and in the locked position in the middle of his waist band. They said that Mr. Hilliard also made a threatening statement toward the officers during their encounter.
As the investigation continued, a second suspicious item was discovered sitting next to the left rear tire of the Mr. Hilliard's yellow 1998 Mercedes. Officers said, Hilliard told them that the second suspicious item also contained a propellant inside and an electronic device for ignition.
Detectives took all of the suspicious items, along with a third and fourth container found in Hilliard's car was set up in another area away from the store, and the Lake County Bomb Squad was notified and the store was evacuated. The suspicious items were later found to be safe by the Bomb Squad's robot.
The Store was searched thoroughly by an explosive detection K-9 team and other officers and nothing was found. The store was closed for a good chunk of the day, but it reopened shortly after 2 p.m.
Mr. Hilliard is being charged with multiple crimes in connection with this case. He will be transported and booked into the Lake County Jail.