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Former employee accused of trying to set fire at Smithfield Foods

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 10:55 AM EDT
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BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A former employee attempted to set fire to a canopy at Smithfield Foods, according to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.

Latasha Rena Bittle, 26, of Lumberton, was charged with:

  • Second Degree Trespass
  • Damage to Occupied Property with Explosive
  • five counts of Injury to Personal Property

According to the sheriff’s office, someone attempted to set fire by throwing a plastic jug with accelerants onto a break area canopy at Smithfield Foods shortly after 7 a.m. on Oct. 12.

Eye witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee the area in a burgundy-colored sedan. One eyewitness told law enforcement that it was Bittle who threw the accelerant.

“Bittle was identified as a potential suspect after she sent an email to Smithfield Corporate officials on the morning of this incident,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “Bittle was disgruntled about an incident that happened while she was employed at Smithfield. During the incident, Bittle was heard stating that she would ‘burn the plant down and shoot it up.’”

On Oct. 13, five vehicles in the Smithfield Foods management parking lot were vandalized by a suspect who smashed windows with a hammer. The sheriff’s office said the same sedan from the attempted arson was spotted leaving the scene of the vandalism.

After learning Bittle had turned herself into the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office on outstanding charges not related to the Smithfield incidents, Bladen County investigators went to Columbus County to interview Bittle where she reportedly confessed to the attempted arson and vandalism to the cars.

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