(BLOOMINGTON) - An Indiana University student was arrested after police discovered he was attempting to make an explosive device.
According to Bloomington Police Sgt. Joe Crider, officers were called to a home in the 400 block of East Varsity Lane on January 16 to make a welfare check on Ryder Lewis Pickens.
Pickens entered a not guilty plea Thursday to a felony charge of attempted manufacturing of an explosive device. He is being held in Monroe County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Crider says that a 20-year-old friend of Pickens told police that they noticed several dangerous chemicals and a hazardous material suit and other items associated with a laboratory in Pickens' basement.
Officers obtained a search warrant and went to the home where they seized several containers of chemicals and lab equipment. The chemicals were identified as nitric acid, ferric chloride, and common house hold cleaners.
"Pickens admitted to having the lab equipment and chemicals, but denied he was attempting to make any type of explosive device," Crider says.
According to police, Pickens had lawfully purchased the items from an online vendor.
"Based on information provided by the complainant and witness, Mr. Pickens was subsequently transported by officers to the IU Health Hospital for an immediate detention," Crider added.
Then on January 17, at approximately 2 p.m., officers received a second call reporting a package, addressed to Pickens, with suspicious items that had been delivered to the home.
Officers obtained a second warrant and seized the package with contained laboratory glassware and several chemicals associated with bomb making.
That is when Bloomington police contacted the F.B.I. Bloomington Field office and an F.B.I. Explosive Specialist Unit and the Indiana National Guard Civil Support Team was called in. The explosive specialists' confirmed the chemical materials were sufficient to "synthesize explosives."
On January 22, a forensic exam was conducted on Pickens' desktop computer, and investigators found search queries for weapons of mass destruction, effects of sarin gas, Agent Blue, and the chemical components for Agent Orange.
That same day around 7 p.m., Pickens was released from the hospital and was arrested on a felony charge of attempted manufacturing of an explosive device.
"At this time, investigators are focusing their efforts on identifying any potential motives," Crider says. "And the case remains an active investigation."
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