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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: explosive devices

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.

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.

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.

Man admits to stalking, bomb charges

A man who tried to blow up his wife with a homemade bomb after transporting the device from Omak, Washington, to Kamiah, Idaho, in 2009 has pleaded guilty to three federal felonies.

Levi Wayne Mendenhall, 31, faces up to 10 years in prison and three years probation after pleading guilty Tuesday in Coeur d'Alene to stalking, transporting explosives with intent to kill, injure, or intimidate, and use of explosive material during the commission of a federal felony.

Mendenhall  constructed the device using a three-inch plastic pipe filled with explosive powder, razor blades and BBs after buying the components at stores in northeastern Washington, according to the Idaho U.S. Attorney's Office.

He wired the device to a battery and placed it inside a box, then set the device to trigger an explosion when and items was removed from the box. He placed the box on the hood of a car outside his estranged wife's home. The homeowner found the box and called authorities after she saw wires.

The Spokane County bomb squad safely disarmed the device.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms nd Explosives recovered explosive powder matching the device and a receipt for two of the bomb components at Mendenhall's home in Omak. They also found video of him buying the components at four Washington stores, and located Mendenhall's fingerprint on the outside of the box that held the bomb.

Mendenhall is to be sentenced Aug. 2 before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge in Coeur d'Alene

“Women who end domestic relationships must be free from violence and fear of violence,” U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a prepared statement. “This defendant's conduct endangered many lives. His guilty plea ensures that he will not present a danger to his now ex-wife or any other person for a long time.”

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.

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

Bomb materials recovered in Idaho

A 20-year-old man charged in connection with an explosion that killed a man last weekend dumped bomb-making materials in a rural area in North Idaho, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday.

Christapher A. Harris was released from jail on his own recognizance Monday as detectives continued to investigate an explosion outside a costume party at 3110 E. Denison-Chattaroy Road that killed Cody Hathaway, 28.

Investigators believe Hathaway was checking on an ignited bomb that failed to detonate when the device exploded. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another partygoer admitted to igniting the device. Detectives searched Harris’ apartment at 7723 W. Sunset Highway and his Chevrolet truck after a friend said he’d helped Harris load bomb making materials into the vehicle after Hathaway’s death.

Detectives found materials near a road in Osborne, Idaho, on Tuesday that included evidence of a methamphetamine lab. The investigation is ongoing.

Past coverage:

Nov. 9: Officials ID man killed by explosive device

Suspect in fatal explosion leaves jail

A teenager accused of bringing bombs to a party that then exploded, killing a 28-year-old man, left jail Monday night.

Judge Michael Price allowed Christapher A. Harris, 19, to leave jail on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court on a felony bomb charge.

 Cody J. Hathaway, 28, died after checking on a homemade explosive device that was ignited outside a home at 3110 E. Dennison-Chattaroy Road late Saturday. Investigators say the device hadn’t exploded right away, but blew up after Hathaway approached.

Harris, 19, was arrested Sunday after 19-year-old John M. Williams, a roommate of Harris’ girlfriend, said Harris had gone to work after the party and told co-workers he’d taken explosives “and a guy died.”

“Williams said at one point Harris chuckled and said, ‘Huh, I killed someone,’” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Read my full story here.

Suspect in deadly explosion due in court

A young man accused of bringing explosives to a party that killed a 28-year-old man is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon.

 Christapher A. Harris, 19, is facing a felony charge of possession or manufacture of an incendiary device. Detectives are searching his truck today.

Investigators believe he brought the homemade explosives to a party Saturday night in the 3100 block of East Denison-Chattaroy Road.

When one didn’t explode right away, the victim apparently approached the device, which then exploded. Partygoers initially thought the victim was joking. Read more here.

Harris is pictured at the Kootenai County Jail in January, where he was booked on a drunken driving charge. He pleaded guilty in April and was given a year of probation, a 90-day driver’s license suspension and a $500 fine.

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