GMC amateur pipe bomb suspect avoids prison

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Law enforcement and first responders responded in droves to Georgia Military College on Jan. 28, 2021, trying to figure out exactly what was sitting underneath a campus park bench.

The contraption consisted of a rod, a socket wrench, shotgun shells and zip ties, investigators later said.  The contraption was discovered by a GMC employee zip-tied to a park bench outside of Usery Hall, which is the new 70,000-square-foot prep school building that opened several years ago. 

The school went into lockdown, the GBI responded and the device ultimately was removed.

Now, one of the two men arrested in conncection to the case has learned his legal fate. Morgan Stipe Sills, who'd been sitting in the county jail for the last 16-plus months, recently pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful handling of an explosive device, as well as one count of carrying weapons within certain school.  He was sentenced to five years on probation and required to pay $1,505 in fines and legal fees. Public defender Sherri Smith represented Sills.

Lionel Timothy Bowen, the other suspect who's accused of building the device, has not had his day in court yet, and his case remains unresolved.

Both men lived in the River Edge Behavioral Health group home at 121 South Elbert Street, located just north of the GMC campus. The property has since been torn down.

Bowen, 62, was a familiar face around downtown and was often spotted playing his guitar and/or panhandling. Sills, 35, also was a regular around the downtown restaurant/bars. In September 2020, Sills was tasered multiple times by a Milledgeville Police Department officer, arrested and charged with obstruction of an officer and disorderly conduct. Officers responded after Sills “picked up and knocked (a woman) to the ground” inside of Buffington’s and later “standing inside (of The Brick) and screaming at the other patrons.”

Bowen and Sills were arrested within 24 hours of the incident.

Sills actually was re-arrested in March of that year after he reportedly became upset after he was given “Nutraloaf” or “prison loaf,” which is a meatloaf-looking dish made of various ingredients. Added an incident report: “Sills became upset about his breakfast being a packout (Nutraloaf). (A jailer) informed him once he stopped refusing housing, he would be moved to regular population and given a regular tray. Inmate Sills stated he could not go to a dorm with other inmates. (The jailer) informed him that as long as he refused housing, he would remain on Nutraloaf.” Sills then “snatched the packout out of the flap (of his cell) in order to close it” and then “threw a liquid, which appeared to be milk, onto (the jailer).”

Bowen eventually was identified as the maker of the “homemade pipe bomb contraption device,” which is how it was described in an incident report. During the search warrant of the group home, photographed and taken into evidence were:

• .380 ammunition – located on table

• Black flashlight inside manipulated metal pipe on table

• Manipulated metal pipe with .380 live round embedded in one end of pipe on table

• Blue bag containing additional metal pipes next to table”


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