CHOCOWINITY, BEAUFORT COUNTY - A Beaufort County man accused of making meth near a middle school may face more charges because meth ingredients were found on school property, authorities said.
Capt. Russell Davenport of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office said investigators are pursuing child endangerment, dumping toxic chemicals, and other charges against Thomas Hardee, who is already facing several meth-related charges.
"It's a very dangerous chemical. You can't see the gas that's escaping from the bottle because it's invisible and ammonia gas is coming from it," Captain Davenport said.
According to Davenport, the new charges stem from the discovery of a 20-ounce bottle of meth ingredients, which was found in a ditch near the baseball field of Chocowinity Middle School.
Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Don Phipps said none of the students or staff were involved or affected.
"For us this is a teachable moment for students no matter how old they are to know of the dangers of picking up things on the ground that aren't in their possession," said Phipps.
The Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that Hardee was arrested because he was making meth at his home, located about 300 feet from the middle school. Investigators said they were concerned about the safety of the students.
Davenport said that Hardee cooked meth in his home, then discarded the pots in several locations, including the grounds of Chocowinity Middle School and the intersection of Highway 17 and 102.
Deputies said they searched Hardee's home and found both meth and meth-producing material. Officials with the SBI were at the scene Thursday.
Hardee has been charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine within 1000 feet of a school, manufacture methamphetamine, maintaining a dwelling to facilitate a drug activity and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is being held under a $150,000 bond at the Beaufort County Detention Center.
Investigators said Hardee was previously on probation in Tennessee for manufacturing meth.
A Beaufort County man is accused of making meth near a middle school.
Sheriff's investigators arrested Thomas Hardee.
Deputies were concerned for the safety of students at Chocowinity Middle School because Hardee's house is about 300 feet from the school.
Hardee is charged with possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine and other drug charges.