Man arrested after Lee County deputies find explosive device

Investigation was part of an ongoing welfare check for the man's mother

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – What began as an investigation involving a vulnerable adult turned into some tense moments after a homemade explosive device was discovered at a Tupelo area convenience store.

Tilar Thompson was going to stop by the Texaco T-Mart on his way home Tuesday night, but those plans changed.

“My store closes at 11, I was here at 10:30, all this was blocked off, they had police lined up all the way over to Cracker Barrel, I was just trying to go to my store,” Thompson said.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said the store, street, and parking lots were blocked because an improvised explosive device, or IED, was found in this blue car.  Michael FosterThe car belongs to 58-year-old Michael Foster and his mom, 81-year-old Dianne Cotton.

“The Lee County Sheriff’s Department for the last several months has been investigating an individual by the name of Michael Foster for a case of a vulnerable adult, involving his mother,” Johnson said.

A tip led deputies to the Texaco T-Mart on Barnes Crossing Road. Johnson said deputies located the car and found methamphetamine on Foster, and the IED, near his mother.

“The device was removed from the vehicle and it was detonated by the Tupelo Police Department Bomb Squad and everyone was safe,” Johnson said.

The sheriff said there were plenty of challenges when it came to finding Foster and his mom. They were both homeless and living out of their car. The sheriff said the case shows the importance of getting solid tips from the public.

“These people were choosing to live this way, they had a vehicle, means of moving around, enough income to have a place, but they chose to live in this particular environment,  I’m not saying it’s a good environment for anyone, but certainly not good for an 81-year-old woman,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Cotton was taken to NMMC for evaluation and any medical treatment she may need. Foster is in the Lee County Jail charged with felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor trespassing. However, he could also face federal charges for the IED, and additional local charges as the investigation continues.

The sheriff said Foster has had prior arrests ranging from armed robbery to drug charges, but he has never been convicted.

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