Arrest in College Park pipe bomb blast; 2nd possible explosive found

December 21, 2012

Investigators probing the explosion of a small pipe bomb in College Park arrested one man Friday and rendered safe a possible explosive they found in a van outside the home of the man’s associates, authorities said.

Although the probe is still in its early stages, investigators believe that the bomb that exploded Tuesday at a home in College Park and the object found Friday were used as part of other criminal activity, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.

According to an official with knowledge of the case, the suspects are thought to be involved in the drug trade. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the investigation without fear of being disciplined.

Fire officials identified the arrested man as John Frank Jenkins, 28, of the 9000 block of Rhode Island Avenue in College Park. He was charged with two felony counts of manufacturing or possessing a destructive device, officials said.

Brady said that investigators also interviewed and released two other “people of interest” — believed to be associates of Jenkins — but that it is possible they could be charged later.

“We believe that these people, at the two homes today, were involved in some type of criminal activity and they had resorted to using explosives as part of that criminal activity,” Brady said.

The case first drew fire officials’ attention about 2 a.m. Tuesday, when the small pipe bomb was detonated on the porch of a home in the 8800 block of 48th Avenue, Brady said. Authorities said that no one was hurt and that damage was minimal.

Brady said that investigators handling that case determined that possible suspects lived at two other College Park homes — one in the 5000 block of Edgewood Road, the other in the 9000 block of Rhode Island Avenue. They also learned that a “potential hazardous device” might be in a van outside the Edgewood Road home, Brady said.

Investigators searched the van and found “what appeared to be an explosive device” similar to the detonated pipe bomb, Brady said.

He added that the possible explosive was sent to a lab to be tested.

If tests show the device to be an explosive related to the one used Tuesday, the two people in the home could be charged, and Jenkins could face additional charges, Brady said. Investigators are still looking into what spurred Tuesday’s incident, Brady added.

Later, investigators searched Jenkins’s home on Rhode Island Avenue, Brady said. He said they did not find any more explosives.

Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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