Above: Ryder Pickens
BLOOMINGTON (Jan. 23, 2014) – An Indiana University student is accused of trying to make explosives.
Bloomington police arrested 20-year-old Ryder Pickens Wednesday on a charge of attempted manufacturing of a destructive device (Class C felony).
The investigation began last week when Bloomington police received a phone call from an acquaintance of Pickens who said he’d observed chemicals, a hazmat suit, respirator and glassware in Pickens’ basement at a home in the 400 block of East Varsity Lane. The caller also said Pickens had been searching the internet for information on how to make explosives.
Police interviewed Pickens’ roommate and obtained a search warrant for a welfare check. Around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, January 17, police arrived to check on Pickens and search the residence. Inside, they found “containers and laboratory equipment” that were later identified as “nitric acid, ferric chloride, and common household cleaners.”
While being interviewed by police, Pickens acknowledged he had lab equipment and chemicals but denied having any intent to make an explosive. Police said it looked like Pickens had legally obtained the chemicals by buying them online. He was taken to IU Health Hospital for immediate detention.
On Friday afternoon, police were dispatched to the residence again after receiving word of a suspicious package addressed to Pickens. After obtaining a search warrant, police found “additional laboratory glassware, sodium nitrate, black iron oxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, potassium chlorate, strontium nitrate, barium nitrate, and potassium per chlorate.”
Bloomington police consulted with FBI explosives experts and the National Guard Civil Support Team. According to police, the specialists said Pickens’ chemicals could synthesize an explosive.
On Wednesday, Jan. 22, forensic examiners searched Pickens’ desktop computer. They found search queries for “weapons of mass destruction, effects of sarin gas, Agent Blue and the chemical components for Agent Orange.”
Pickens was released from IU Health Hospital and arrested Wednesday night. He was taken to the Monroe County Jail.
Police said the investigation remains active and they were looking for a motive.