TAMPA Tampa police asked Laurie Gage to leave her home on East Crawford Street at 5 p.m. Tuesday. She didn’t know why but was concerned for her neighbors, the Minyard family, that she’s known for eight years. On Wednesday afternoon, she learned that the family’s son, James Lee Minyard, 42, was arrested and charged with six counts of manufacture and possession of homemade explosive devices. He is being held in a Hillsborough County jail. It was scary to learn about the homemade explosives next door, especially in light of the Boston Marathon bombings, Gage said.
“You never know what’s going on with explosives and stuff,” Gage said. “I’m just glad everybody’s OK and hope that they found everything and there’s no danger.” Authorities said Wednesday they found a variety of chemicals and other materials used to make explosives in Minyard’s home and a workshop. They also found remnants of bomb blasts in the backyard, police said. Tampa police Sgt. Jarrett Seal called the situation “very dangerous.” “The types of homemade explosives that he was making are very, very dangerous and very volatile and you definitely don’t want that outside a controlled environment,” Seal said. “And this wasn’t a controlled environment.” Minyard came to authorities’ attention the day before when he was carrying one of the explosives while walking on Sligh Avenue. The explosive detonated, blowing off the tips of his left middle finger and ring finger. While investigating the incident, Tampa police found two homemade explosive devices — one partially detonated device near the BP gas station and another that appeared to be an unexploded device, police said. Investigators, including Tampa police, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Tampa Fire Rescue, executed a search warrant at Minyard’s home at 1212 E. Crawford St. There, they found four additional homemade explosive devices in a makeshift laboratory. After Minyard was released from the hospital Wednesday morning, he was taken to Tampa police headquarters for questioning. He was forthcoming during his interview with investigators and admitted to constructing the explosive devices, police said. “There was no set plan,” said Tampa police Sgt. Bill Todd. “He was going to explode them more for recreation around the house. … No intention to hurt anyone. This was simply for his recreation.” Minyard, who is unemployed and on disability, told investigators he began making the devices at the beginning of the year to prove he could accomplish something, police said. He told investigators he learned on the Internet how to make the explosives. He had no intention of causing harm or injuring people, authorities said, though they said they are still investigating. Police said Minyard didn’t explain why he was carrying a homemade explosive device near the BP gas station on Tuesday afternoon and where he was headed. Outside his home Wednesday, Minyard’s father, James D. Minyard, said his son has lived with them for the past four years. He mostly kept to himself, he said.