Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Public safety

Police: Tampa man who blew off fingers charged with building 6 bombs

TAMPA — James Lee Minyard said he built pipe bombs because he never finished school.

Now, at age 41, he wanted to prove to himself that he could accomplish something challenging, Tampa police said.

Minyard followed instructions he found online and, since January, built at least six explosive devices, police said.

Investigators discovered Minyard's dangerous hobby Tuesday, after one of his bombs exploded for unknown reasons in his hand. It blew off the top part of two of his fingers.

There was a lot of blood. Someone at the nearby BP gas station at Sligh and Nebraska avenues called 911.

During the call, Minyard can be heard yelling in the background. He blamed an M-80 firecracker, though police soon discovered that was not true.

After paramedics took Minyard to Tampa General Hospital, investigators found one detonated — and one partially detonated — pipe bomb nearby, where a witness saw the explosion.

Police got a search warrant and found four more bombs, as well as bombmaking materials in Minyard's home at 1212 E Crawford St.

On Wednesday, authorities charged Minyard with six counts of making an explosive device. He was released from the hospital and booked into jail. His bail was set at $12,000.

Police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are still investigating Minyard and his intentions but said Wednesday that it does not appear he had malicious plans for the bombs.

Though his Facebook page contains a series of angry rants and photos of a rifle and a knife, police say they do not have evidence Minyard planned to hurt anybody.

Detectives found journals in his home, where Minyard lived with his parents.

The journals detailed only the mechanics of bomb-building, police say. None explained plans for the products.

When investigators interviewed Minyard on Wednesday, he was very animated and talkative, police said.

"He wanted to build these devices to show he had the capacity to do that," said Assistant Chief John Newman.

Police believe he planned to detonate them in his yard.

"This was simply for recreation," said police Sgt. Bill Todd.

Nonetheless, the explosives are dangerous devices and could have hurt people, as they did Minyard on Tuesday, said Newman. Authorities say they are going to continue to investigate Minyard, his past and his associates.

According to a search warrant filed in court, Minyard's parents, Lynda and James D. Minyard, 70 and 71, knew their son had been making explosives. Minyard's father told police that his son had been making explosives from peroxide.

Police say they are currently analyzing the chemicals in the bombs and declined to name any at this point. A woman who answered the phone at the Minyards' home declined to comment.

The younger Minyard has been arrested previously in Hillsborough County on charges of petty theft, contempt of court, driving without a license and violation of probation.

Police do not plan to charge Minyard's parents. Though they knew of the explosives, it does not appear they understood the danger, police said.

"At this point, they've been very cooperative," said police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, adding that the parents were not supportive of their son's activities and have been wanting him to move out of their house.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

     
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