Man is suspected of Va. home bombings
HELENA – A man wanted on charges of detonating pipe bombs in Virginia led police on a chase across the Montana plains Thursday during which he threw several bombs at his pursuers before he was captured, authorities said.
The chase began after a trooper with the Montana Highway Patrol pulled over Laurence Alan Stewart II for speeding, said Bradley Beyersdorf, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Stewart stopped at first, then sped off. Deputies from the Cascade County sheriff’s office and a helicopter joined in the pursuit, which began in Judith Basin County and then headed toward Great Falls on U.S. Highway 87.
Along the way, Stewart threw multiple bombs at the officers behind him, Beyersdorf said. Some of the bombs detonated, but there were no injuries during the pursuit.
The chase went on for about 40 miles before the officers disabled the car, but Beyersdorf did not know how. Stewart fled the vehicle with a handgun but was taken into custody.
One Cascade County sheriff’s deputy pulled a muscle during the foot chase, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
“This was an individual that was very dangerous. He showed that capacity in Virginia and continued that today in Montana,” Beyersdorf said.
It was not clear how Stewart came to be in Montana.
The Highway Patrol closed portions of U.S. 87 southeast of Great Falls. Beyersdorf said there may be more explosives in the car, and ATF personnel and a sniffer dog were headed to the scene.
Stewart, 25, is suspected of detonating pipe bombs in the homes of his ex-girlfriend and two investigators handling an indecent exposure case that involves him. Authorities said he is accused of exposing himself to two people while sitting in his car in North Stafford in July and August.
Nobody was injured in the explosions Tuesday in Stafford County and Fredericksburg, Va. Authorities said the detective and deputy sheriff involved in that case were those targeted by the explosives, as was his ex-girlfriend.
Stewart faces charges in Virginia that include attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, manufacture or possession of a weapon of terror, and arson.
Stewart also faces three counts of attempted deliberate homicide for allegedly throwing pipe bombs near patrol cars and one count of felony criminal endangerment for a pipe bomb thrown near a civilian’s car, the Tribune reported.