TAMPA — John Nicholas Coors learned how to make bombs by reading The Anarchist Cookbook, federal agents said. He considered himself a mercenary and had a bucket of pure nitric acid, his father told investigators.
A man who knew Coors, 20, saw one of his homemade bombs and told a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent in August that Coors might "do something foolish," court records state.
On Friday, Coors pressed a trigger for a bomb he planted in a vehicle in downtown Tampa, records state. He had planned to kill the man who returned to the vehicle, according to an affidavit, but the bomb didn't go off.
That's because an undercover officer working with Coors had provided inert dynamite — and the victim was part of the setup. Within hours, Coors was booked into jail, accused by the FBI of planning a murder in Tampa in exchange for $8,000.
Coors of Bradenton appeared in court Monday before U.S. Magistrate Anthony E. Porcelli, who told Coors that he faced a very serious charge.
Dressed in jeans and a gray T-shirt, baby-faced Coors looked like a college student shuffling off to class as he entered the courtroom.
An affidavit filed in the Middle District of Florida explains the government's case:
It states that on Aug. 28, a man who used to work with Coors approached a special agent with the FBI. He told the agent that he was a former associate of Coors' and that Coors had made bombs out of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil and had various chemicals in 5-gallon buckets.
He told other agents that Coors was "very skilled in making explosive devices and had made pipe bombs." He said that Coors had read the book Hitman and had nitric acid, sulfuric acid and citric acid.
And Coors had five softball-sized ammonium nitrate-fuel oil devices, the man said. That's what Timothy McVeigh used — in a larger quantity — in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The informant also told agents that he had leftover materials from the construction of a bomb that Coors had given him with instructions to destroy it. He turned the items over to a special agent, and they included packaging for timers, rocket motors and batteries; a model rocket engine; wire; gloves; a Motorola phone box; and ACE cold compress packages, which contain ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient in popular homemade bomb recipes.
Coors' fingerprints were found on at least three of the items, which "are consistent with improvised explosive or 'homemade explosive' production," the affidavit states.
On Nov. 17, the FBI source contacted Coors. Their conversation was recorded by law enforcement.
Coors told the source he had chemicals he could use to make explosives. The source told Coors he had an associate who needed a bomb. But Coors said he didn't have all the necessary ingredients.
Then on Jan. 5, the source met Coors in Bradenton. Coors said he had the chemicals and was "itching" to use them, the affidavit states.
On Jan. 11, the source introduced Coors to an undercover law enforcement officer. The officer told Coors he was looking for assistance in "taking care of some business and getting rid of … some individual that me and my brother don't like so much."
Eight days later, they met again, and Coors said he could make a bomb capable of killing at least two people sitting in a car, the affidavit states. He said he would wire the device to the brake lights.
He said he wanted $8,000 and a month to build the device.
He later said he would place the bomb in the center console and detonate the bomb from 200 meters — about 650 feet — away.
In March, the officer told Coors that he had some dynamite for the device, and Coors agreed to use it.
On Thursday, he called and told the officer that he "will be ready to roll this afternoon and it shouldn't take long to whip up the cake, two hours at most."
The next day, the officer traveled to Bradenton to meet with Coors and take him to a hotel in Tampa to construct the device.
Coors picked up a few more items from Home Depot and Walmart, then he returned to the hotel room and showed the officer how to build the bomb, which he learned from The Anarchist Cookbook, the affidavit states.
He and the officer drove toward downtown Tampa and arrived at the planted "victim's" vehicle. Coors broke into the vehicle and put the bomb in the center seat area and returned to the officer's vehicle, the affidavit states.
When the "victim" got into the car, Coors pressed the button on the triggering device. When it failed to detonate, he panicked and continually pressed the button, the affidavit states.
He was arrested about 1 a.m. and booked into the Orient Road Jail. On Monday, he waived his bond hearing, which means he likely will remain in jail until the grand jury meets, Porcelli said.