LAKE HELEN, Fla. — An anonymous tip led officials to a Lake Helen home, where they discovered Mason jars filled with a highly explosive powder, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday evening.
Lake Helen police officers and Volusia County deputies said they were called to the home at South High Street and West Pennsylvania Avenue, where they found jars containing triacetone triperoxide, a highly volatile explosive.
"This guy is also highly intelligent. We're not talking about Joe Schmo who got online and decided to do this," Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. "Did he have more sinister plans? We don't know. But the bottom line is, if you take this as mundane, that he was a frustrated chemist and just playing chemist, he still had the potential to blow up the block."
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Deputies said the white crystal powder has been referred to as "mother of Satan" by terrorist organizations and has been used in deadly attacks.
Jared E. Coburn, 37, who lives at the home, said he was using the powder to make homemade fireworks, a hobby of his, investigators said. They said the avid skydiver told them he is passionate about explosives and learned to build them by watching YouTube tutorials.
"He tried to explain to us that he was making his own version of a firework," Lake Helen police Chief Mike Walker said. "It was a shock. It was definitely a shock."
Hyrum Shick, Coburn's cousin, said he owns the home where deputies discovered six homemade explosive devices.
"I've known him to be a man of integrity, family values, church values," he said. "I know he's not malicious, and he has no intent to hurt others." %
Coburn's neighbor said he mostly keeps to himself.
Investigators said the TATP was detonated underground in a nearby field, because the material is too volatile to move and because that method allows for the collection of evidence after detonation.
Residents reported hearing seven explosions overnight.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also called to the incident, which remains under investigation.
"You don't normally survive unless you know what you're doing, from what the FBI was telling us and the bomb guys were saying," Chitwood said. "When you produce this TATP stuff, most people blow themselves up or blow (up) something else in the process."
Coburn was arrested one two counts of possessing a destructive device and one count of manufacturing an explosive device. He is being held in lieu of a $45,000 bail. Deputies said he could face additional charges.
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