HUTCHINSON, KS- Two 18-year-old men were recently arrested after allegedly being discovered in possession of more than 80 homemade explosives inside of a truck.
After a series of mysterious explosions were reported going off throughout the city the past few weeks, police apprehended the two suspects on February 8th.
What’s more concerning, despite the allegations and explosives discovered – the duo has already bonded out of jail and are back in the street.
Tyler Bryce Bontrager and Andrew Hoffman are already walking the streets after making bond this past weekend, but what led to their arrest could make one wonder why bail was even offered in their case.
South Hutchinson police had been investigating complaints of sporadic explosions that locals had been reporting over the past several weeks. Then the department received a tip that there was someone who was selling improvised explosive devices locally and had them stored inside their vehicle’s trunk.
South Hutchinson Police Chief Dean Harcrow commented on the investigation that led to the arrest of the two young adults:
“We did some investigative work on it and found out who owned the vehicle. We located it around State Street and Poplar Street and a traffic stop was initiated.”
The traffic stop that was initiated at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday led to an astonishing discovery by officers on the scene. Inside the suspects’ trunk was a plastic container filled with fully assembled explosive devices.
Once police had realized the gravity of the stop, they blocked off a two-mile radius and evacuated homes within half a block of the stopped vehicle.
Residents from the immediate area were evacuated from their homes for several hours, as federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives addressed the scene.
Chief Harcrow described the analysis from the ATF and the seizure that ensued:
“The ATF considered them to be IEDs. They said 72 of them were the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite and 10 of them equaled a half stick of dynamite. They were making them at a residence out in the county and selling them individually to other individuals in Reno County.”
Aside from the fully assembled bombs the duo allegedly possessed, there was also containers filled with additional fuses, powder, funnels and empty shells. Chief Harcrow noted on the materials they collected to assemble the bombs:
“They were ordering stuff off the internet to make them. They included powdered potassium chlorate and aluminum powder in cardboard tubes. They had fuses.”
Those tasked with investigating the case believe that the suspect’s arrested were responsible for peddling the devices locally, which was what led to locals hearing various explosions over the recent weeks.
Hutchinson police and the Reno County Sheriff’s Office are both handling the investigation, while the Wichita ATF agents Neal Tierney and Jason Fuller seized the devices at the scene.
Chief Harcrow stated that even though the alleged manufacturers were arrested, there’s a possibility that more are connected with the scheme:
“We’re still doing follow up. The investigation is ongoing. There might be more people involved, but we’re still looking into that.”
Both Bontrager and Hoffman were booked into the county jail after the discovery Saturday night under charges of criminal use of explosives. However, both of them had bonded out of the jail before the weekend was out.
Men arrested with 80 homemade explosives in Hutchinson, Kansas https://t.co/8ej2w4VnO9
— Avery54 (@lavery1965) February 10, 2020
It’s not clear what the bond set was for the 18-year-old suspects arrested.
A review of the Reno County Sheriff’s Jail logs only detailed that they were processed earlier in the week.
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