Along with chemicals, fuses, guns and bomb-making materials, police say Todd Dwight Wheeler Jr. had how-to manuals in his Glen Burnie home with titles such as "Boobytraps," "Deadly Brew," "Highly Explosive Pyrotechnic Compositions" and "The Poor Man's James Bond."
Anne Arundel County police and fire officials said Tuesday that they still don't know why Wheeler, 28, was allegedly making bombs in his house on Edgerly Road. But they believe responders averted a potential disaster when they seized more than 100 pounds of chemicals and bomb-making materials and arrested him.
"Whatever his intentions were, the investigation prevented that from happening and prevented people from being injured," said Capt. Robert Howarth, lead fire investigator in the case, during a news conference at the county Fire Department headquarters in Millersville.
Officials displayed evidence including glass jars labeled "ammonium chloride," "potassium chlorate" and "sulfur." Investigators said that since last Thursday, they had also seized several handguns and rifles from the home.
Howarth said had the materials exploded, the blast radius could have stretched 50 yards.
"He was making bombs, and he was making explosives," he said.
Wheeler "had the capability of causing destruction and terror in our county," said Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.
Wheeler was charged with two counts of making explosives, two counts of possessing explosive materials and one count of reckless endangerment. Officials said more charges are likely. He has been held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center in Annapolis since Thursday on $400,000 bail. Police announced his arrest Friday and described their investigation at Tuesday's news conference.
Investigators said they were tipped off to possible criminal activity on New Year's Day, when one of Wheeler's relatives, who lives on Oakdale Circle in Millersville, called 911 reporting a suicidal person. Paramedics found Wheeler at the home suffering from injuries caused by "chemical or mechanical reactions" and took him to Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie.
Officials did not describe Wheeler's injuries in detail, but indicated he had burns to one of his limbs that paramedics determined could have come from a blast.
Chief Kevin Davis of Anne Arundel police said as first responders talked with Wheeler, they "became suspicious of his story, suspicious of his injuries and suspicious of his distinct chemical odor."
Police found some chemicals at the Millersville residence, and fire investigators secured a warrant for Wheeler's home in the Harundale neighborhood. They began searching the home Thursday with the help of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a bomb squad from Annapolis.
Fire investigators charged Wheeler after finding two homemade explosives in his home — even as the search of his house continued through Friday night. In charging documents, investigators described one device as a 37 mm round modified with explosives and another as a cardboard tube packed with explosive material and a fuse.
Anne Arundel Fire Chief Michael Cox said police, fire and federal agents worked together "to prevent a domestic terror incident from occurring in our community."
Davis specifically noted the work of responding officers Cpl. Doyle Holquist, Cpl. Mark Gass and Sgt. Rob Price, along with police operator Amanda Marchio and 911 operator Mary McCormick.
Police said the house is now safe, and they're still working to piece together a possible motive. They said Wheeler is not cooperating in investigators.
Wheeler's previous legal issues include a number of traffic citations. He has a court date this month for driving without a license, according to online records. He also pleaded guilty last year to charges including speeding and driving without proper tags. He was fined $300. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired by drugs and was sentenced to a one-year suspended sentence, according to online records.
A Facebook page that fire officials say belongs to Wheeler shows pictures of him and cars, and indicates he attended Broadneck High School.
Robert Mosier, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Public School System, said Wheeler attended one month of ninth grade at Broadneck in 2001. The school system has no records of Wheeler since then, he said.
Police declined to discuss details of the evidence and said much of it is still being analyzed.
Wheeler will have a preliminary hearing Jan. 29 in District Court in Annapolis. Wheeler's attorney, Laura M. Robinson of Glen Burnie, declined to comment Tuesday. Police said as a result of the investigation, Wheeler was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, with a trial scheduled for Jan. 28.
Online property records indicate that Wheeler bought the home on Edgerly Road near the North County Area Library in 2010.
Michael Jennings, president of the Harundale Oakwood Park Civic Association, said police and fire personnel did a good job uncovering the explosive materials. "We're lucky that we have those guys getting our backs," he said.
Jennings said the neighborhood is quiet, but he lamented that few neighbors get to know one another.
"You live in cocoons," he said. "When you do that, you don't know who's next door to you," he said.
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