ASHEVILLE, NC (WSPA) – Asheville Police Department officials said a man was arrested on several charges stemming from incidents at two Walmart stores in south Asheville.
According to a news release, on June 30 and July 16, employees at both Walmart locations reported incidents to the police department that involved a customer communicating threats to staff and in one case, assaulting a staff member.
Police said the suspect in both cases was identified as James Lawrence Owensby, 43, of Asheville.
On Friday, detectives located and arrested Owensby on charges of simple assault, two counts of communicating a threat and ethnic intimidation.
“The investigation into these matters is ongoing and is centered on the fact that both incidents may have involved actions that were motivated by racial bias,” according to the release. “The State of North Carolina has in its general statutes two provisions for prosecuting crimes motivated by bias.”
The police department said they have been in communication with the Office of the District Attorney in this case for legal assistance while investigating the two incidents involving Owensby, according to the release.
Anyone with information on either of the incidents is asked to call 828-252-1110.