BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Jan. 23, 2014)– The friends of a 20-year-old Indiana University student from Danville became worried last week as there were more and more deliveries of dangerous chemicals capable of creating a weapon of mass destruction, lab gear, a hazardous materials suit and respirator to his off-campus apartment near the university’s Memorial Stadium.
When Bloomington Police were called, Ryder Pickens admitted the chemicals and gear were his but he wouldn’t say why he needed them. Pickens spent a week at the IU Health & Hospital Center for his own well being.
Upon Pickens’ release Wednesday he was placed under arrest for the attempted manufacturing of a destructive device. He’s being held on $1 million surety bond.
“I believe on the search queries and coupled with the chemicals and lab equipment in his bedroom I believe he was in the preliminary stages of making an explosive device,” said Bloomington Police Sgt. Joe Crider who said investigators were advised by the FBI that information on Pickens’ computer indicate he was researching Sarin Gas, Agent Blue and Agent Orange. “Their specialists have consulted and informed us that these were the type of chemicals that can be used for explosive devices.”
While friends called police and expressed concern over the chemicals and Pickens’ demeanor, one acquaintence described the IU student as a curious kid.
“I know that he’s like not 100% normal,” said Shadi Alkattan, who described himself as a close friend who often played soccer with Pickens and recently went grocery shopping before the arrest. “He always asks me like weird questions but he just wants to know.”
“I was going to tell him when I saw him, like, ‘Why don’t you take a chem class instead of ordering all this stuff?'”
“People use the word, ‘psychotic,’ saying he’s become, ‘psychotic,'” said Alkattan. “I don’t think his intention was to make a bomb and hurt people. I think his intent was to just see these chemicals…just search it and see what it was like.”
Pickens will make his initial appearance in court Friday afternoon.