Two Olentangy Orange High School students face felony charges after authorities recovered bomb-making materials from an apartment in southern Delaware County.
Officials with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbus divisions of fire and police responded about 10:15 a.m. June 15 to the intersection of Arrow Feather and Pennycress lanes in the Village at Olentangy Meadows subdivision after a resident reported he had found a fire extinguisher with a fuse attached. The resident carried the device behind his house in the first block of Arrow Feather Lane after discovering it, according to sheriff’s reports.
Technicians with the city of Columbus’ bomb squad disarmed the device shortly after arriving.
Steve Martin, battalion chief with the Columbus Division of Fire, said investigators later determined a group of juveniles intended to throw the device into a retention pond in the neighborhood, located off U.S. Route 23 across from Highbanks Metro Park.
“When it didn’t go off, the kids left,” he said.
On the day of the incident, investigators determined a 15-year-old student at Orange High School was a suspect and eventually obtained a search warrant for his residence, an apartment on Bella Woods Drive less than a mile from the scene of the incident.
Investigators found around 15 improvised explosive devices and about 5 pounds of explosive powder, according to a news release from the Columbus Division of Fire.
Mike DeFrancisco, lead investigator with the Columbus Division of Fire, said in a statement the explosives found at the residence could have “destroyed the unit if not the entire third floor” of the apartment building.
The teen and a fellow 15-year-old student at Orange High School were charged with unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance, a fifth-degree felony, according to the news release.
Martin said investigators are looking into what three to five other students may have known about the explosives. He said investigators have not found any evidence that students were planning to use the devices to target any individuals or places.
“Our belief is that these kids were curious,” he said. “They were intelligent students and they were just kind of having fun.”
Even though the students may not have had ill intent, Martin said the devices had the potential to cause great damage.
“If (the device disarmed by the bomb squad) would have been ignited and left in a public place, it would have been very dangerous,” he said.
Martin said the Columbus Division of Fire waited to release information on the incident until about a month later to protect an ongoing investigation.
“If at any time during the investigation we would have felt that anybody was in any kind of danger, we would have been all over the news,” he said.