*5 Updates below*
Authorities are investigating an explosion at an apartment complex in Texas City (home to one of the largest petrochemical complexes in the world) yesterday which killed one man and injured another. (hat tip: Nita Rene)
One man died Wednesday in an explosion at a Texas City apartment complex, KPRC Local 2 reported.
A resident was working with combustible materials inside a unit, sparking the explosion, investigators said. That man, whose identity was not released, died at the scene.
Today, investigators have identified the materials:
Authorities ordered two apartment complexes evacuated and set off a small explosion inside a unit today in an attempt to remove a substance believed to have caused a fatal blast Wednesday.
In a news conference today, federal and local officials said they believe the substance was peroxide-based.
The FBI refused to say whether it believes the men were preparing some kind of attack.
But Texas City Mayor Matt Doyle said: “If we thought this was a terrorist act, the action would be a lot different than we’ve seen here today. Certainly, the FBI would have raised the level of security inside the city.'’
Salway described the substance as similar to TATP, organic peroxide and a primary high explosive. It takes the form of a white crystalline powder with a distinctive acrid smell and has been described as a weapon of choice for suicide bombers.
TATP was also the explosive of choice of suicide bomber Joel Hinrichs outside a packed football stadium in Oklahoma last Fall, as well as the 07/07/05 London bombers.
Of course, the official line is… “Authorities … don’t believe terrorism was involved.”
Here are photos of the scene, courtesy of the Galveston County Daily News:
The two victims have been identified.
The survivor of yesterday`s explosion, Curtis Jetton, is charged with making a false police report. Police say Jetton and the victim, 21-year-old Matthew Rugo, were working with chemicals inside the apartment when the first explosion took place.
According to public records, it appears Matthew Rugo was arrested two years ago on a misdemeanor weapons violation.
He was also charged in March 2005 with burglary of a habitation. Kohen said Rugo and co-defendant Christopher J. Distefano, 20, of Bellville, were accused of stealing rifles and other items from a home. He had pleaded guilty in the case but had not yet been sentenced. Distefano also was facing sentencing.
Contradictory reports about their possible affiliations:
A college student killed Wednesday afternoon in a blast at the Lakeview Apartments likely was part of a growing subculture of young people who like to see things blown up, authorities said.
Those same authorities insist he and a friend injured in the blast were not associated with any terrorist group — domestic or otherwise.
That word contradicted TV news reports attributed to unnamed, highly placed federal sources that said the pair might be members of a four-person domestic terrorist group.
The injured man had recently been fired from his job cleaning offshore storage tanks and oilrigs:
Mickey Greene, the operations manager for Will Duett, a Galveston firm that specializes in cleaning offshore storage tanks and oilrigs, confirmed Jetton worked for him until recently. He said he told Jetton he wasn’t needed anymore after failing to report to work Saturday.
A friend of Matt’s has posted a tribute to him here.
He had a special interest in explosives and firearms, as many guys do at the age. The only thing is he was a little more active in his interest. I have no doubt he enjoyed just seeing what he could accomplish with them and knowing that he had the knowledge and ability for them. If it wasn’t for this accident, I bet he could have truly been a great pyrotechnician someday or something of the sorts.
I’m not condoning what Matt did, but I just want to clear up any question on his intent. Matt was not a violent person and there really isn’t a doubt in my mind that he did not meant any harm to anybody or anything. I’m sure the most he would have done with any of his materials was take them out to some pasture or somewhere and see what he could do with them. They where basically his toys, though dangerous as they where. He had no more intent with his actions then someone with a bottlerocket aimed at an object in a junk heap.
Rest in Peace, Matt. The one true regret I have about this is that I can’t tell you all the stir you made after the fact… with the FBI, news reporters, bomb squads, the police blowing up the apartment complex, and helicopters going crazy. You would have truly loved it, and thought it an extremely befitting end.
(hat tip: Mrs Peel) Stories still not adding up. Despite what those close to the guys are saying, Jetton is telling a different story…in his own words:
Texas City police told a different story in a court affidavit released Friday. That affidavit alleges Jetton told police he not only knew about the explosives but went with Rugo to purchase the items used to concoct the volatile mixture.
“He was fully aware of the ingredients for making an explosive in detail,” according to the affidavit.
The document states that moments after the fatal blast, Jetton told police there were no more explosives in the apartment. Police said Jetton later changed his story and said the items could be found in a closet.
That bit of misdirection is what led to the charge of filing a false police report.
Jetton also described what happened in the moments leading up to the blast that killed Rugo, according to the affidavit. In the report, police said Jetton explained that Rugo was taking the explosive material, believed to be similar to a peroxide-based explosive known as TATP, out of a container. That is when the explosion occurred.
Jetton bonded out of state jail and was promptly picked up by federal authorities. Questions remain…