A Moses Lake man suspected of gathering bomb-making materials to blow up his former workplace had picked out the wrong type of fertilizer, authorities say.
The investigation into Ryan S. Palmer, 39, found that he stole a urea-based fertilizer from the Nutrien Ag Solutions facility in Moses Lake – not an ammonium nitrate formulation that could have been mixed with fuel oil to produce an explosive compound called ANFO, said Kyle Foreman, a spokesman for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
Palmer, who appears to have no prior criminal record, was arrested the night of Dec. 27 after a sheriff’s deputy discovered various materials in his car during a routine traffic stop. According to court records, those materials included fertilizer, an antifreeze bottle that Palmer had filled with diesel fuel, and a mortar he had made from a PVC pipe, gunpowder and a plastic syringe.
“The device that he made was rudimentary and low-order and incomplete,” Foreman said. “It was not going to blow up right there.”
Foreman said sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at Palmer’s home Wednesday evening, accompanied by FBI agents, the Richland Police Department’s bomb squad and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They found “only a small amount of precursor” materials, he said.
Palmer remained in jail Friday on a second-degree burglary charge. Foreman said he wasn’t certain if authorities would move forward with a charge of second-degree malicious explosion of a substance.
According to court records, Palmer told investigators he had worked at the Nutrien facility as a driver until 2015. Wanting to “prove a point” that the facility had lax security measures, Palmer said he had toyed with the idea of blowing up the place, though he insisted he would not follow through with such a plan, the records state. He also allegedly invoked the name of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
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