Officials Find, Detonate Explosive Device In Fayetteville Storage Unit
Posted January 14, 2002 8:34 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Local and state officials are still putting the pieces together in the investigation of who left a large pipe bomb in a Fayetteville storage shed.
Investigators said that their main suspect, Russell Kenneth Powell, 30, was already jailed in Hoke County on an unrelated DWI charge since Jan. 5
"We learned of his connection to the storage facility in Fayetteville through his conversation with one of our jailers," Sheriff Jim Davis said.
Thursday night, he was charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of a firearm. His bond was set at $500,000.
The two-pound explosive device was discovered in unit 8 at American Flag Self Storage while authorities were executing a federal search warrant Thursday afternoon.
Several nearby businesses were evacuated and the intersection at Raeford and Skibo roads was shut down as a precaution.
Officials said that the homemade bomb they found was capable of killing several people.
"It was a live pipe bomb that could have certainly killed people," ATF Agent Joe Lenczyk said. "It appeared it would have been designed to kill people."
Lenczyk said the warrant was served around 3 p.m. as part of a four-month investigation by federal and local law officers. A Cumberland County bomb squad detonated the device around 6 p.m. The device was sent to a lab for analysis.
"We have more than one suspect that we believe were involved with this investigation and we anticipate that the appropriate action will be taken in the near future," Lenczyk said.
Investigators said that a pipe bomb explosion in a parking lot at Fayetteville Technical Community College last fall is what led them to the storage unit. They believe Powell is linked to that case, as well.
So far, Powell has not been charged with either of the Fayetteville pipe bomb cases.
"We're looking for additional evidence in the course of this investigation. Finding this device is the key piece of evidence that will ultimately lead to an arrest," Lenczyk said.
He said that the bomb's components "would be accessible to the public" and would take some bomb-making knowledge to produce.
With information that the device was intended to be used to kill someone, the investigators said that they believe they prevented a potential tragedy.
The ATF credited the discovery to the joint efforts of the Fayetteville Police Department, Hoke County Sheriff's Office, Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and other agencies.
The U.S. Attorney's Office requested and was successful in getting the affidavit and search warrant sealed. Investigators have also asked the storage company not to release the names of the people who rented the unit for about six months.
Agents say they do have a motive, but are not releasing that at this time. They are also not ruling out additional searches in the near future.