Indiana Student Facing Felony Charges for Possessing Bomb-Making MaterialsBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
Ryder Pickens, a 20-year-old Indiana University student, has been arrested and charged for attempting to manufacture a destructive device, a Class C felony. If found guilty, Pickens, who is currently pursuing a degree in informatics, will face two to eight years in prison.
Bloomington police officials discovered varieties of dangerous chemicals, laboratory equipments and other household cleaners used in the preparation of explosives in his basement bedroom including nitric acid, ferric chloride, laboratory glassware, sodium nitrate, black iron oxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, potassium chlorate, strontium nitrate, barium nitrate, and potassium per chlorate.
Picken's recent web searches were for sarin gas, Agent Blue and Orange, and weapons of mass destruction.
On Thursday, Pickens pleaded not guilty to the felony charge in Monroe County Circuit Court. Currently, he is being held in the Monroe County Jail on a $1 million surety bond.
The officials were tipped about the chemicals by a 20-year-old associate of Pickens Jan 16.
During the investigation, Pickens admitted to possessing the materials, but denied making a bomb. FBI specialists and explosives experts told Bloomington police that the chemicals were enough to manufacture explosives.
"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. "Their specialists have consulted and informed us that these were the type of chemicals that can be used for explosive devices," Fox 59 reports.
The police have not yet determined Pickens' motive for purchasing the chemicals.
Sgt. Ron Humbert, a member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department bomb squad, said that majority of the chemicals discovered in Pickens' apartment are frequently used to produce common fireworks. Humbert said that purchasing such chemicals is not unlawful as long as they are not used to build bombs.
"It's all legal, you know? You can buy anything off the Internet," Humbert said, USA Today reports.
This is not the first arrest for Pickens. He is accused of assaulting an emergency medical services personnel in November.
Students at Indiana University remember Pickens as a curiosity and a psychotic kid.
"I know that he's like not 100% normal," Shadi Alkattan, a close friend of Pickens, said. "He always asks me like weird questions but he just wants to know.... 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."