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Ohio man faces federal charges following October explosion that injured Carroll County man

Officials from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the State Fire Marshal and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives held a news conference Thursday, March 11, 2021 announcing federal charges against an Ohio man accused in an October package bomb attack near Manchester.

An Ohio man who allegedly traveled to Carroll County in October and left a bomb at the residence of a Manchester man he knew through a role-playing battle game is facing federal criminal charges.

Clayton Alexander McCoy, 30, of Chesterland, Ohio, was charged by the U.S. Attorney with transporting explosives with intent to injure and with using, carrying or possessing a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.

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A 28-year-old man opened a package on Oct. 30 left at his Manchester residence earlier in the day and heard a whistling sound just before an explosion caused injuries to his legs and abdomen.

McCoy had become friends with the Manchester man and his girlfriend through Dagorhir, a live action role-playing battle game with “full contact melee fighting and ranged combat as its primary focus,” charging documents state. Carroll County Sheriff Jim DeWees compared it to a Civil War reenactment. The girlfriend knew McCoy for seven years and the victim knew him for three.

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Charging documents states the girlfriend and McCoy were planning a camping trip together and during the week of Oct. 12, McCoy allegedly told the victim’s girlfriend that he had feelings for her. However, she did not feel the same way. The two later agreed to be friends. She later canceled the trip after feeling uncomfortable about it but told McCoy it was due to a busy work schedule, the document states.

The victim “did not think McCoy would be responsible for this incident,” the charging document stated.

Law enforcement obtained search warrants and found that in the early morning of Oct. 30, a device “associated with McCoy” and located at his residence allegedly searched for and obtained directions to the victim’s home and address. His cellphone allegedly traveled with him in a pickup truck similar to the one his mother owns was seen in front of the victim’s home, according to the news release. It was depicted on a home security video from a neighbor’s home taken that day.

A review of McCoy’s online accounts revealed a week before the explosion that McCoy allegedly searched for the gas tank capacity of a 1994 Toyota pickup, the same that belonged to his mom’s.

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The criminal complaint was filed March 3. McCoy is scheduled to make his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Cleveland on Friday. He will appear in U.S. District Court in Baltimore at a later date.

Federal, state and county officials held a news conference Thursday morning to announce the charges at Carroll County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy in Hampstead, the former North Carroll High School.

Jonathan F. Lenzner, Acting United States Attorney for Maryland, said McCoy was arrested Wednesday in Ohio and said the bomb was “homemade,” “deadly” and that the victim was targeted.

The victim left for work around 8 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 30, DeWees explained at a Nov. 2 news conference. Shortly after, an explosive device disguised as a package was dropped at his front porch with his name on it.

The man’s grandfather took the package inside the home, in the 3300 block of View Ridge Court. A charging document states the box was described as 16 inches long, 12 inches wide, 12 inches deep, weighed 10 pounds and inside a clear plastic bag. The grandfather removed the plastic and placed it on the kitchen table where it remained untouched until his grandson came home at around 5:30 p.m. that day. The grandson took it upstairs to his bedroom, which faced the front of the house in a neighborhood with single-family houses on half-acre, or more, lots, and opened it.

Charging documents state that he first opened a cardboard box that contained a smaller white box with a red ribbon.

“According to the victim, as he opened the smaller white box, a small nail that appeared to be inserted into the white box was pulled outward,” the document states. “When he removed the nail, the victim heard a whistling or hissing sound followed by an explosion.”

Shrapnel struck the front of his body, a probable cause document stated, and caused injuries to the man’s abdomen and legs. He was taken to the hospital, was released Nov. 17 and is continuing with rehabilitation.

Pictures fell off the wall, the roof was slightly raised and neighbors felt the shake, DeWees said in November. Police believe the package was delivered to the Manchester home close to Pennsylvania’s border, between 8 and 8:30 a.m. It was not there when the victim left for work. Law enforcement believed the package was hand-delivered by a third party or by the suspect.

McCoy faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted on the charge of transporting explosives with intent to injure and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years, a maximum of life, in federal prison for using, carrying or possession of a destructive device during and in retaliation to a crime of violence, according to the news release.

Commissioner Stephan Wantz, R-District 1, who attended the news conference, mentioned the conference and case earlier Thursday morning at the Board of Commissioners meeting and compared the incident and investigation to a “Dateline” episode.

“When you hear the details, it’s unbelievable,” he said during the board meeting. “The amount of work they went through to make an arrest. Incredible job. Shows what kind of talent we have here in Carroll.”

Lenzner said it’s difficult to solve a case like this and applauded all law enforcement involved for working together on it.

“Cases involving explosions take months and even years to solve,” he said.

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