Gastonia woman denies intent to blow up police station

Credit: Gaston County Sheriff's Office

Amanda Barnes


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 3 at 11:46 AM

GASTONIA, N.C. -- The 37-year-old mother accused of threatening to blow up the Gaston County Police department denies any wrong doing.

Armanda Barnes, a Gastonia resident, maintained her innocence during her arraignment on a felony charge of attempted malicious destruction to a government building.

Barnes says she had initially gone to the Gaston County Police department seeking help.

"It was a complete misunderstanding,” explains Barnes, who was detained at the Gaston County Jail following her arrest Sunday.

Gaston Police Captain W.S. Melton says an overnight officer confronted Barnes after seeing her wandering at the police parking lot Saturday evening. She asked for directions to a retirement home nearby and left without any incident.  Police say she returned several hours later walking into the station lobby with a full gas canister.

"The same officer happened to be in the building and was doing paperwork. He recognized the lady and the clerk told him she told her she was going to blow up the building and was going to kill them,” says Melton.

Barnes says she had a working lighter in her pocket, but had no intention of using it.  Police confirm her hands were empty at the time. Barnes says she returned to the police station to retrieve a 2010 Census hat she accidently left behind. Police say while Barnes was very upset and rambling about a number of issues, they are still uncertain about the exact reason behind her action.

Melton says the officer acted quickly and appropriately, taking possession of the gas canister, and then escorting her out of the building. The clerk told police Barnes was a military veteran, who was upset at how she was being treated.  Barnes told the judge, she splits her time in Charlotte, caring for an elderly relative and working as a financial controller for the Department of Justice.

Barnes will appear in court Friday pending a mental evaluation.  Her half-million dollar bond was reduced to $10,000, but she will remain in jail.  A judge found her behavior in contempt of court during her bond hearing, and ordered her to spend 30 days in jail.