Federal and local authorities allegedly prevented a potential "domestic terror" event when they seized 100 pounds of bomb-making materials from the home of a Maryland man earlier this month, according to ABC 2 News.
"These materials were capable of maiming, injuring or killing human beings," Anne Arundel County Fire Chief Michael Cox said in a news conference Tuesday. Cooperation between police, fire and federal agencies "[prevented] a domestic terror incident from occurring," he said.
On Jan. 1, county police responded to reports of an attempted suicide at the Millersville home of Todd Dwight Wheeler, Jr. Police said the 28-year-old man had serious wounds on his upper body that were suspected to be blast injuries.
"[Officers] became suspicious of his story, suspicious of his injuries, and suspicious of his distinct chemical odor," Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis said, according to ABC 2 News.
Police and fire personnel conducted a search of the Wheeler's home over the following days, allegedly uncovering a cache of bomb-making materials, as well as completed explosive devices, high-powered weapons, guns, and manuals detailing how to make bombs and booby traps, according to NBC News.
Fire Capt. Robert Howarth, the lead investigator in the case, said the completed bombs would have had a blast radius of more than 150 feet -- big enough to "have taken out the house and the surrounding houses."
Wheeler's motive is as yet unknown, but authorities are convinced the seizure of the materials saved lives. The Baltimore Sun reports that Wheeler is refusing to cooperate with investigators.
"Whatever his intentions were, the investigation prevented that from happening and prevented people from being injured," Howarth said, according to the newspaper.
Wheeler faces two counts of manufacturing a destructive device, two counts of possessing a destructive device and one count of reckless endangerment. Additional federal and state charges are pending.