Columbia police continue investigation into why suspect kept two explosive devices at home

Thursday, August 2, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:13 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — After Tuesday night’s standoff in which two explosive devices were found in a southeast Columbia home, investigators wouldn’t say whether the man charged with possessing them ever planned to use them.

Tom O’Sullivan, a detective with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, said the incident began after an argument between a man and his girlfriend in the 4000 block of Ludwick Boulevard in the Germantown subdivision. After the couple’s fight, the woman’s relatives were packing up the boyfriend’s belongings to move him out when one of them found explosives in his closet, O’Sullivan said.

The man who found them then hid the explosives and called the police, O’Sullivan said.

When police and firefighters arrived, the relative sketched a picture of what he’d found to show officers and described where he’d hidden the two devices.

“He was very helpful,” Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp of the Boone County Fire Protection District said.

Twelve residents were evacuated from nearby homes after police arrived about 8:30 p.m.

The explosives were removed from the home by a bomb squad member. Law enforcement was then alerted that the suspect was hiding in the house. Over a loudspeaker, they urged him to speak with officers or come outside, but they received no response. Police said the man locked himself in a bedroom and refused to come out until nearly five hours later when he walked down the front steps and turned himself in.

Afterward, the bomb squad’s robot and authorities searched the home, but no more explosives or weapons were found.

Blomenkamp said the explosives resembled pipe bombs. He described them as 6-inch-long clear plastic tubes about an inch in diameter with “firecracker-like” fuses.

The first device contained gunpowder, but the second contained an unknown substance with the consistency of C-4, which “would cause significant damage to a building or room,” he said.

Blomenkamp said samples of the substance were sent away to a lab for testing, but he was unable to say how long it would take to get the results.

O’Sullivan declined to comment on the source of the explosives, or what plans — if any — the suspect had for them.

John Quehl, 51, was charged with a prohibited weapons felony, domestic violence and unrelated outstanding misdemeanor warrants in connection with the incident. He was being held Wednesday in the Boone County Jail on a $10,000 bond.

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