Charges: Arlington-area shooting suspect had gun stash, bomb lab

A bomb squad spent two days detonating explosive material. Detectives also discovered an underground bunker full of guns.

ARLINGTON — The investigation started with the shooting of a man’s pinky finger at a house east of Arlington.

It led detectives to a lab full of chemicals to make explosives, then underground to a bunker full of weapons.

The man who was shot called the suspect a doomsday “prepper,” according to an arrest report.

An Arlington-area man, 42, was charged last week in Snohomish County Superior Court with second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree. He also has a U.S. District Court warrant out for his arrest for allegedly possessing explosives.

Around 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 4, the suspect, armed with a pistol, confronted a man in a Honda Accord at a home in the 19300 block of Burn Road, according to court documents. They argued. The suspect reportedly said he was going to shoot the man in the Honda if he didn’t leave.

The driver pleaded with the homeowner to put the gun down.

Prosecutors allege the suspect raised his gun and shot one round through the Honda’s windshield, hitting the driver’s hand. Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies later found a bullet hole in the Honda’s windshield and bullet fragments in the car, according to the charges.

“Leave before I put one in your head,” the suspect allegedly said.

The man who was shot backed his car out of the driveway. As he was leaving, the suspect pointed his gun at the man in the car, according to court papers.

The wounded man drove to Cascade Valley Hospital for treatment. He had metallic debris in the soft tissue of his middle, ring and pinky fingers, X-rays found.

As deputies investigated the shooting, they found surveillance cameras covering the property and gates at every entrance.

Deputies tried to talk to the suspect at the home, but he wouldn’t come out, according to court papers. It took 90 minutes of negotiations to get the suspect out of his home.

A Superior Court judge signed a warrant to search the property, deputy prosecuting attorney Justin Harleman wrote in the charging papers.

“During the execution of this search warrant, it became clear pretty quickly that there were numerous chemicals present in the garage, and in the detached shop on the property, that were known by detectives to be used to make explosive devices,” Harleman wrote.

Investigators called in a bomb squad from Washington State Patrol. They used a robot with a camera to search the detached shop. The video feed showed a plethora of chemicals that can be used to make homemade explosives, according to court documents: copper sulfide, picric acid, aluminum powder and lead oxide, among others.

A judge granted another search warrant the next morning to remove them. Bomb technicians spent hours detonating the materials on the Burn Road property.

“This took so long that the safe detonations had to continue” for two days, wrote Harleman, who likened the shop to a lab for making bombs.

The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were enlisted to help.

Deputies searched the shop after the detonations and found a large piece of plywood on the floor. They lifted it to reveal a hole leading about nine feet underground, according to the charges.

They reportedly discovered a bunker full of weapons and tactical equipment: a ballistic vest, a Russian handgun, a custom-made assault rifle as well as several other rifles. There was also a large amount of ammo, including a bucket of shotgun shells, according to police.

In 1999, the suspect was convicted of first-degree theft and first-degree burglary in Skagit County, court documents show. As a result, it is illegal for him to own firearms, prosecutors noted.

The Arlington man on Monday was in the Snohomish County Jail with $1 million bail.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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