Explosion leads to massive investigation and arrest in Livingston County

Posted at: 06/14/2013 5:15 AM | Updated at: 06/14/2013 5:14 PM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com

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A man is facing charges after an explosion in his home led officials to a stash of bombs and bomb-making supplies.     

Police say an alert neighbor called 911 and that led to the discovery of dozens of pipe bombs in a Livingston County apartment. The sheriff's office says they were shocked when they got inside and saw the explosives.

Police got that 911 call late Thursday night after a neighbor said he heard an explosion.When investigators finally went into the apartment, they found more than 40 pipe bombs and all kinds of chemicals to make more bombs.

Joseph Martino is in jail charged with criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

The sheriff's office says Martino lived on the main floor of an apartment building. That is where they found 40 pipe bombs and material to make many more. On Friday, the bomb squad detonated the chemicals in an open field. The sheriff's office says some of the chemicals exploded inside Martino's apartment late Thursday night.

Candace Foster heard it from her house down the road.

Candace Foster said, “It was loud enough to hear it but my house shook.”

The sheriff's office says Martino was making pipe bombs out of liquid chemicals.

Undersheriff Jim Szczesniak, Livingston County Sheriff's Office, said, “Some were significant pipe bombs,18 inches and others were smaller, 3 to 4 inch in diameter. So there were various lengths and widths of the pipe bombs filled with different chemical compounds.”

In order to make them work, he had to dry the liquid into a powder. To do it faster, the sheriff's office says he turned on his oven, opened the door and put the chemicals on the oven door. That's what sparked the explosion.

Scott Heagney, Resident Agent-in-Charge, ATF, said, “I think he was just doing it for fun, like a hobby. He was into fireworks and things like that and he was using these pipe bombs of various sizes as fireworks.”

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, “Do you consider bomb making a hobby?”

Heagney said, “No, I don't. I think it's highly dangerous and he's probably lucky he didn't blow himself up at some point.”

Brean said, “He told police he was doing it as a hobby.”

Foster said, “I kind of doubt that very much. Who would be going out of their way to do all that stuff just for a hobby?”

Martino was arraigned in town court very early Friday morning. Sheriff's Deputies say Martino has been in a wheelchair since he was 14. He has several prior felony convictions including a burglary. He was on parole before but not as of  Thursday night. Because of his prior convictions, he's in jail without bail.  for burglary, he's in jail on no bail.

The sheriff's office says there were no red flags about Martino or his apartment. The chemicals he used were products you can buy at a drug store or salon, hydrogen peroxide and acetate. So the sheriff's office said if there's any warning here, it's people who buy those things in bulk and who look a little out of place.


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