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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: bombs

Man in Hooters bomb case to stay in jail

A man arrested with about 5,400 small explosive devices in his van outside Hooters in Spokane Valley last week will stay in jail without bail.

Peter Ward Westhaver, 53, pleaded not guilty today to a grand jury indictment charging him with dealing in explosives materials, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years on prison.

Investigators believe Westhaver was selling the devices. Two undercover agents met with Westhaver June 28 at the restaurant near the Spokane Valley Mall and listened as he discussed his manufacturing operation.

They were leaving the restaurant when Westhaver told the men he actually had the devices in his Ford Windstar van in the parking lot, according to court documents.

The investigators, who work for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, broke their cover and arrested him for officer safety purposes, then searched the van. The devices are described as red plastic balls filled with a flash-like explosive powder with a fuse inserted.

The indictment returned by a grand jury on Tuesday calls for Westhaver to forfeit ownership of the devices. He appeared in U.S. District Court today for his arraignment. He isn't even trying to get out of jail: His public defender waived his bail hearing.

Federal agents began investigating Westhaver in late May, about the same time a suspicious device was found in a home in northwest Spokane.
  

Man arrested w/ 5,000+ bombs in Valley

A man was arrested with about 5,400 small explosive devices in his van during an undercover investigation at Hooters in Spokane Valley Thursday.

Peter Ward Westhaver, 53, is in the Spokane County Jail on a no-bail federal hold.

He met two men who turned out to be undercover investigators at the restaurant about 2:15 p.m. and “talked extensively about his explosives manufacturing operation,” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.

He was leaving the restaurant with the investigators about 3 p.m. when he told them he had explosives in his vehicle. The investigators, who work for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, broke their cover and arrested him for officer safety purposes and say he allowed them to search his blue Ford Windstar van.

Investigators seized 18 Home Depot buckets, each filled with about 300 “ping pong ball bombs,” according to court documents. The devices are described as red plastic balls filled with an explosive powder with a fuse inserted.

The devices matched two devices found in the possession of a cooperating source who was working with law enforcement to mitigate potential charges or sentencing related to his possession of the devices.

The investigation into Westhaver began about May 25; explosives experts first examined the two devices from the cooperating source on May 23.

Westhaver, whose last known address was in Elk, Wash., was convicted in Spokane County of third-degree child molestation and two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purpose in 2005. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail and four years probation.

He made his first appearance today at 1:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court on explosives charges.

Fugitive arrested in Center of Universe

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man who failed to appear in court on charges he caused a disturbance at a Missoula hotel was taken into custody by a bail bond company after a standoff at a Wallace, Idaho, hotel.

Michael Dell Babinski, 42, was booked into the Missoula County jail early Tuesday, the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/HHBR9U) reported.

Chase Investigations owner Kelli Martin told the newspaper her team took Babinski into custody at about 2 a.m. Tuesday at the Wallace Inn. She said he raved about bombs and the federal Department of Homeland Security during the standoff.

Babinski initially was arrested Saturday at the Hilton Garden Inn. He had been kicked out of the Missoula hotel on Thursday for having a dog. He returned on Friday. On Saturday, prosecutors said Babinski was again asked to leave and threatened to “take down” the hotel. Officers said he was carrying several knives, a semiautomatic handgun, a stun gun and pepper spray and had a large dog with him.

Officers who searched Babinski at the jail Saturday reported finding eight hydrocodone tablets and 7 ½ tablets of lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug.

Babinski was released from jail Sunday after posting bond on $50,000 bail. Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech issued a $100,000 bench warrant Monday when Babinski failed to appear in court on two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs, criminal trespass and carrying concealed weapons.

A records check showed he had four restraining orders in Spokane County, Wash., and Shoshone County, Idaho, according to the affidavit. Two of those orders prohibit him from possessing firearms, it said.

Bomb maker in fatal explosion sentenced

A man who brought a bomb to a party that led to the death of a 28-year-old man was sentenced today to about three years in prison.

Christapher A. Harris, 21, (left) is to serve 39 months for second-degree manslaughter and possession of an explosive device, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza said.

A jury in September voted 9-3 to acquit Harris of first-degree manslaughter for the Nov. 6, 2010, explosion that killed Cody R. Hathaway, 28, (right) outside a family costume party.

Another jury convicted him of the lesser charge last month. 

Hathaway died after a bomb exploded and sent a piece of shrapnel into his neck.

The bomb was one of several Harris brought to the party at the invite of co-defendant James J. Crouchman, who lit one of the devices.

Crouchman, 36, was sentenced to 10 months in jail last month for unlawful possession of explosives and reckless endangerment.

Manslaughter conviction in fatal explosion

After the first jury decided 9-3 to acquit him of first-degree manslaughter, a second jury handed down a unanimous second-degree manslaughter conviction against the man who built a homemade bomb that killed a Spokane man at a belated Halloween party in 2010. 

Christapher A. Harris, who turns 21 on Sunday, faces about three years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 6. Harris was convicted of killing 28-year-old Cody R. Hathaway (pictured right) on Nov. 6, 2010, north of Chattaroy.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

2nd trial ending in fatal bomb explosion

Closing arguments are underway in the second trial of a man charged in the explosion of a homemade bomb that killed a Chattaroy man.

Christapher A. Harris, 20, (pictured) is charged with manslaughter for the Nov. 6, 2010, explosion that killed Cody R. Hathaway, 28, outside a family costume party.

A jury in September voted 9-3 to acquit Harris of the charge, but verdicts must be unanimous. The jury did convict co-defendant James J. Crouchman and Harris of possession of an explosive device and Harris of possession of a stolen firearm.

Crouchman's second trial for second-degree manslaughter is scheduled for Dec. 27, but he is expected to instead plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

The bomb was one of several Harris brought to the party at the invite of Crouchman, who lit one of the devices. Hathaway approached the device and it exploded, sending a piece of metal into his neck that severed arteries and killed him.

Harris was arrested after ditching bomb-making material in Idaho. He's been out of jail for his trials.

Past coverage:

Feb. 28: Manslaughter charges filed over deadly explosion

Nov. 8, 2010: Man killed in explosion outside party ID'd

Manslaughter trial begins for 2 suspects

Trial is set to being today in the case of two men charged with manslaughter after a homemade bomb killed a 28-year-old man outside a party north of Chattaroy last fall.

Opening statements are to begin at 9:30 a.m. in front of Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza.  Christapher A. Harris (left) is charged with first-degree manslaughter and James J. Crouchman second-degree manslaughter for the Nov. 6 explosion that killed Cody R. Hathaway (below).

Harris also is charged with possession of a stolen firearm and possession or manufacture of an incendiary device. If convicted, he faces 95 to 125 months in prison, prosecutors said in February. If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Crouchman faces 26 to 34 months in prison. Harris was arrested on an explosives charge just after the incident.

Police say he brought the device and other homemade bombs to the party, then removed bomb-making materials from his Spokane apartment and dumped them in Idaho to avoid investigators.

Crouchman told police he ignited one of the devices in a poorly lighted area, then saw Hathaway emerge from the area and collapse after the explosion.

Medical Examiner Sally Aiken recovered a metal fragment from Hathaway’s neck that appeared to be from a CO2 canister. Aiken believes Hathaway died when the canister struck the left side of his neck and severed an artery and jugular vein, according to court documents.

Harris is represented by James Kirkham. Crouchman is represented by Chris Phelps. Dale Nagy is prosecuting.

Past coverage:

Feb. 28: Manslaughter charges filed over deadly explosion

Nov. 8: Man killed in explosion outside party ID'd

Fla. teen arrested in school bomb plot

By MITCH STACY and TAMARA LUSH,Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A year and a half before he was accused of plotting to bomb his high school, a shirtless and shoeless Jared Cano confronted police with a metal baseball bat when they came to his apartment looking for a stolen pistol, which they eventually found in his bedroom. He was 15 at the time, but already had several run-ins with police.

Cano's troubled history is outlined in police reports released after investigators uncovered what they say was a plan to attack the Tampa school that expelled him. None of the previous juvenile charges — from burglary to firearm possession — ended in a conviction.

Yet it appears that this week's bomb plot went beyond angry teenage bluster: Detectives said Cano had amassed shrapnel, plastic tubing, timing and fuse devices for pipe bombs. The attack plan investigators found on Tuesday was mapped out minute-by-minute.

Experts say the level of preparation shows how serious he was.

“Ninety-nine percent of the population who fantasize about harming someone because they are frustrated, or for whatever reason, don't actually make plans to carry it out,” said Charles A. Williams, a Drexel University psychology professor and expert on violent youth.

School safety expert Kenneth S. Trump agreed that the written plans showed a “high probability” that Cano would have carried out an attack.

“The good news is that since Columbine we still see kids coming forward to report the threats and the plots, such as in this case,” said Trump, president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services.

Tampa investigators were tipped off Tuesday that Cano was plotting to bomb Freedom High School, and they thought the information was plausible enough to search the apartment where he lived with his mother. Cano's past run-ins with the law had earned him a court-ordered curfew and a place on a police watch list.

“We've been very, very familiar with him,” police Maj. John Newman said. Police have declined to say who tipped them off.

Before this week, Cano's most recent arrest came when he was accused in March 2010 of breaking into a house and stealing a handgun, Tampa police said. According to the police report, the gun's owner — who was the grandfather of Cano's friend — said the weapon had three rounds in the clip.

Read the rest of the story by clicking the link below.

Photos place Harpham at MLK march

Federal prosecutors for the first time today revealed that domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham took pictures of himself at the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March, where he is charged with leaving a bomb along its route.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rice said in court that Harpham, 37, also photographed young black children gathering for the march and a Jewish man who was wearing a yarmulke.

“Whether rightfully or wrongfully, how the defendant sees the world,” Rice said of Harpham, “he intended to target those individuals.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Feds: Man, 20, tried to help terrorists

A Clarkston man who seriously injured himself with a homemade bomb last year has been charged with trying to assist terrorists.

A grand jury indicted Joseph Jefferey Brice, 20, this week on new charges of attempt to provide material support to terrorists, manufacturing an unregistered firearm, distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Brice has been in jail since May 3 on a firearms charge.

Investigators believe he posted comments on YouTube under the name StrengthofAllah and discussed through email plans to rob a bank in Lewiston after planting bombs near a school to distract police.

Federal authorities began probing his activities after he was injured by a homemade bomb on April 18, 2010, and investigators learned he'd posted videos of explosions to YouTube.

In February, Brice wrote on Youtube that he found an “FBI or ATF tracking device on his vehicle” and that the FBI had singled him out in their investigation into the explosive device left along the planned route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity march in Spokane on Jan. 17. The only suspect in that case, Kevin W. Harpham, was arrested near Addy, Wash., on March 9 and remains in jail.
  

Clarkston bomb maker jailed w/o bail

A Clarkston, Wash., man will remain in the Spokane County Jail without bail after federal agents found explosive materials at his home during an investigation into online posts advocating jihad.

Investigators believe Joseph Jeffrey Brice, 21, posted comments advocating suicide bombings on YouTube and discussed through email plans to rob a bank in Lewiston, Idaho after planting bombs near a school to district police.

Authorities began investigating Brice after he was injured when a bomb he made exploded on April 18, 2010. Whitman County deputies didn’t pursue charges, but federal investigators probed Brice further after learning he posted videos of explosions on YouTube under the name “StrengthofAllah.”

Investigators used search warrants to access identifying information on Brice’s email accounts and IP addresses.

They discovered videos Brice posted to an extreme video website that depict suicide bombings in Pakistan, and also links to a terrorism magazine with instructions on how to make explosives, according to the search warrants. Investigators believe Brice also registered an email address under the name of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh.

In February, Brice wrote on YouTube that he found an “FBI or ATF tracking device on his vehicle” and that the FBI had singled him out in their investigation into the explosive device left along the planned route of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity march in Spokane on Jan. 17, according to the warrants. The only suspect in that case, Kevin W. Harpham, was arrested near Addy, Wash., on March 9 and remains in jail.

Brice was arrested on a federal charge of manufacturing an unregistered firearm May 9 after a search at his apartment, 538 Riverview Blvd., in Clarkston.

U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ordered him held without bail after a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

MLK bomb suspect not due in court today

UPDATE: Harpham's arraignment was moved to Monday.

Kevin William Harpham is to be arraigned on a hate crime charge in U.S. District Court today at 1:30 p.m.

A grand jury indicted the Martin Luther King, Jr. march bomb suspect Thursday.

Harpham, who has been in the Spokane County Jail since his arrest March 9, already has pleaded not guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device.

The superseding indictment includes those charges, as well as the hate crime and a charge of use of a firearm (the bomb) in relation to a crime of violence (the hate crime).

The hate crime charge alleges Harpham, who recently turned 37, targeted the march “because of actual or perceived race, color and national origin of any person.”

Harpham faces up to life in prison if convicted.

His father, Cecil Harpham, has told The Spokesman-Review that his son was with him Jan. 17, the day the backpack bomb was discovered along the planned march route.

Read past coverage here

Feds fight release of Harpham records

Federal authorities want to block the unsealing of court records related to the arrest of domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham.

 In a 13-page response Wednesday to a request by The Spokesman-Review, with support from The Seattle Times and The Associated Press, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Harrington argued against unsealing the documents, citing an ongoing investigation and concerns about pre-trial publicity.

“It is well settled that there are qualified common law and Constitutional rights of access to judicial documents,” Harrington wrote. “The right, however, is not absolute … and the public can be properly denied access if there are compelling reasons for keeping records sealed.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Photos released of MLK bomb suspect

 

 

 

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has released booking photos of Martin Luther King, Jr., bomb suspect Kevin William Harpham.

Capt. John McGrath emailed the photos to mediaThursday night in response to public records requests. The photos show Harpham, 36, after he was booked into the Spokane County Jail on March 9. He was arrested that morning near his property north of Addy, Wash. A second set of photos from the U.S. Marshals Service has not been released.

Harpham has pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment charging him with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device and is being held without bail. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Harpham's father, Cecil Harpham, told The Spokesman-Review that his son was with him the day the backpack bomb was discovered along the panned route of the Unity March on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day in downtown Spokane.

Federal investigators say the device was capable of inflicting mass causalities and have called it an act of domestic terrorism.

Kevin Harpham has posted more than 1,000 comments on the racist website Vanguard News Network under the name “Joe Snuffy.”

Father: MLK bomb suspect ‘pretty worried’

The father of domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham said he believes his son was set up by someone wanting to pocket the big reward posted by the FBI.

“They put out a reward for $20,000, and one of his slimy friends turned him in for the money,” Cecil Harpham, 68, of Kettle Falls, Wash., said Tuesday. “Now, the government won’t admit it to me, but I happen to know it’s true.”

Harpham, in his first comments to The Spokesman-Review since his son’s March 9 arrest, said it appears federal agents quit trying to solve the case and focused in on his son simply because of his racist Internet postings.

“He’s sad and he’s pretty worried,” said Harpham, who visited with his son Monday at the Spokane County Jail, where he’s being held while awaiting trial on federal charges.

“To detain him for a year, or as long as the feds drag this thing out, that’s got to be … terrible.”

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 22: Grand jury indicts Harpham in MLK bomb case

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

MLK bomb suspect due in court today

A man suspected in the attempted bombing the Unity March on martin Luther King Jr. Day in Spokane is due in court this afternoon.

Kevin W. Harpham, 36, is expected to plead not guilty to charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device at his arraignment today before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.

The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., but Imbrogno has three hearings scheduled at 1:30 p.m. that may push it back.

Harpham has extensive ties to the white supremacist movement and authored more than 1,000 postings on the racist website Vanguard News Network.

A grand jury indicted him Wednesday.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

New details emerge on MLK bomb

A “joint intelligence bulletin” issued on the day federal agents raided the Colville-area home of Kevin W. Harpham suggests that the bomb may have included a rocket motor igniter and was made in such a way to focus shrapnel at a specific target. 

The bomb consisted of a steel pipe with a hole drilled at its base.

“The pipe was welded to a roughly cut steel plate,” according to the report, which was posted to a research Web site Wednesday.

The explosive charge was described as black powder, which was contained in a plastic bag.

“While not yet confirmed, the initiator appears similar to a rocket motor igniter,” the report states. “An RMI was used in a crude IED carried by a lone individual who took hostages and threatened employees in the Discovery Channel Building” in Silver Spring, Ma., on Sept. 1, 2010.

Read Tom Clouse's full story here.

Past coverage:

March 13: Postings reveal suspect's views

March 11: MLK bomb suspect wrote on race wars

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

Who is bomb suspect Kevin Harpham?

He grew up in rural Eastern Washington, played football in high school and worked at a fast-food restaurant as a teen.

 Childhood friends remember him as quiet and normal – far from the angry racist that Kevin William Harpham portrayed himself as in more than 1,000 posts on a hate-themed message board for white supremacists.

But acquaintances later in life recall an eerie loner who unabashedly disparaged other ethnicities and seemed to have big plans. 

A former neighbor in East Wenatchee said Harpham, now accused of attempting to bomb a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Spokane, once laughed at the idea of transporting black people to a desert island and blowing them up.

“I think Kevin was serious,” said Jill Truax. “My son just told me flat out, ‘I think he’s some white supremacist person … think he has an artillery in there.’

“It was like he on a mission or something,” Truax said.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

March 10: White supremacist arrested in MLK bomb plot

March 11: MLK bomb suspect wrote on race wars  

Bomb suspects charged w/ manslaughter

Manslaughter charges have been filed against two men for a deadly explosion outside a party north of Chattaroy last fall.

Christapher A. Harris, 20, (left) and James J. Crouchman, 35, pleaded not guilty Monday in Spokane County Superior Court. Neither is in custody.

Harris is charged with first-degree manslaughter and Crouchman second-degree manslaughter after a homemade bomb exploded outside a home at 3110 E. Dennison-Chattaroy Road on Nov. 6 and killed Cody R. Hathaway, 28 (below).

 “He died because they were using illegal devices,” said Sgt. Bill Beeman of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Although authorities don’t believe anyone intended to kill Hathaway, the charges allege Harris’ reckless actions and Crouchman’s negligence caused the death.

Hathaway's mother, Gloria Hathaway, said the party was an annual gathering for friends and family and that Harris was not invited but showed up at Crouchman's behest.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 8: Man killed in explosion outside party ID'd

Woman may need Bomb Reporting 101

A Spokane woman picked up a suspicious device and transported it across town before contacting authorities Sunday.

Police say the woman located the device in the area of 2800 E. Diamond Ave., then transported it to an apartment at 1405 N. Lincoln St .

A few hours later, at 9:30 p.m., she decided she didn't feel safe, took the device outside and called police. A bomb robot examined the device, and police concluded it “to be a small but crude attempt at a sparkler bomb,” according to a news release.

Police don't believe the device was intended to injure or scare anyone. They urge citizens to call them “PRIOR to moving any suspicious device or package.”

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