Pine Grove Middle was not intended target of bomb but device may have been a test, Baltimore County prosecutors say

A preliminary investigation suggests the Baltimore County middle school near where a homemade bomb was found in a car Tuesday was not the intended target, a county prosecutor said Thursday.

But the device, which police say was constructed by Joseph R. Vickery, 43, may have been a test to see if it would work, according to Madison Frank with the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office.


“In fact, it did,” Frank told District Court Judge Krystin Jane Richardson at a Thursday afternoon bail review hearing.

The device was safely disabled by the authorities Tuesday but subsequent tests confirmed it had materials that in combination would be “consistent with a homemade improvised explosive mixture,” according to charging documents.


Leftover materials found by police in searches of Vickery’s room at a Rodeway Inn in Woodlawn and his vehicle may have been meant for a second bomb, Frank said. She said it appears the intended target of the device found Tuesday or a future one was his mother-in-law.

Richardson, the judge, ordered Vickery held without bond, saying it was hard to think of a “greater threat” to public safety than someone who would create a homemade bomb and bring it to a middle school. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 14.

Vickery was at Pine Grove Middle School to do repairs Tuesday, according to police’s preliminary investigation, Frank said.

Baltimore County Public Schools said Wednesday the system had no employee by his name. Asked Thursday about whether he may have been contracted by the school system, a spokeswoman said they weren’t able to verify that immediately and would “need to look into this.”

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Vickery was represented at the hearing by the public defender’s office, a representative of which stressed it was only for the bail review hearing.

The public defender said Vickery has “defenses to present” at trial and asked for some form of pretrial release, which was not granted.

Vickery is charged with possession of an explosive or incendiary device with intent to create a destructive device and knowingly manufacturing, possessing or distributing a destructive device, along with firearm and drug offenses.

Police say he was taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday near the school and told police there was an explosive device in his vehicle. Later that day, in a police interview, he reportedly said he’d researched “IEDs” and constructed an explosive. He said he didn’t intend to harm anyone and planned to “detonate it in a remote area,” charging documents said.


A woman also arrested Tuesday by police told officers in an interview that Vickery had begun researching explosives shortly after a “falling out” with her mother.

She also was ordered held without bond Thursday for pending drug charges, but has not been charged in connection with the device. Prosecutors stressed at the bail review, however, that she appeared to have knowledge of the device Vickery was constructing and was seen disposing of trash with precursors for manufacturing an explosive.

Vickery’s mother-in-law, who police and prosecutors say may have been the intended target of his device, was later found to have a security system that had been tampered with, along with sugar in her gas tank, Frank said Thursday.