The Michigan man charged with threatening to blow up his van near the White House last week had everything he needed to set off an explosion, a counterterrorism investigator said yesterday in federal court.
"The components were all there," said D.C. Detective Seth W. Holmes, "but they were not hooked up."
Gloria Timmers, front, with daughter Aleata and granddaughter, attended her husband's hearing yesterday in the District. Lowell Timmers had threatened to blow up the White House.
(Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)
Lowell W. Timmers, 54, had several jars and containers of gasoline, a light bulb to serve as a heat source, a switching device to trigger the explosion and wires to put it all together, said Holmes, who works on an anti-terror task force.
After a hearing yesterday afternoon, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson ordered Timmers held without bond on a charge of making a threat.
The hearing was the most detailed public account yet of the standoff Jan. 18 in which Timmers allegedly threatened to blow up the van and White House. The incident, at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, occurred when the city was teeming with security because of inaugural events and forced the closing of many downtown streets during the afternoon and evening rush hour.
Angry that his daughter's fiance was being held by immigration authorities and likely to be deported, Timmers left his home in Cedar Springs and came to Washington to seek the man's release, charging papers said.
But after setting out to talk to his representatives in Congress, Timmers took a very different turn -- taking his protest to the edge of the White House compound, according to family and police accounts.
"I want my son, and I'm not leaving until my son-in-law is out of jail," he told a Secret Service officer, according to the charging papers. "I have 10 gallons of gas in here, and I will blow up the van and the White House."
No one was hurt in the 4 1/2-hour standoff, which ended with Timmers giving up peacefully.
Talking to reporters last week in Cedar Springs, Timmers's daughter, Aleata, said her fiance, Manuel Regalado, was being held by authorities in Detroit, according to an account in the Grand Rapids Press. The newspaper quoted her as saying that Regalado was an illegal immigrant from Guatemala facing deportation because he missed an appointment with immigration authorities.
Along with assorted elements of a makeshift bomb, Timmers had marijuana in his van and told police that he had smoked the drug that day, Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi S. Pasichow told the judge at yesterday's hearing.
Looking weary after driving from Michigan, Timmers's wife, son, daughter and granddaughter came to the courthouse for the hearing. Gloria Timmers appeared especially upset by the sight of her husband in an orange jail jumpsuit and by the strange turn in the family's fortunes. As her husband sat next to his attorney, her eyes were at times red and watery.
Timmers's daughter was outside the courtroom for much of the hearing, caring for her 1-year-old daughter, while lawyers debated Lowell Timmers's fate.
In papers filed with the court and in arguments before the judge, Pasichow asked that Timmers be held without bond, saying he was a danger to the community and a flight risk.
Defense attorney Tony Axam of the Federal Public Defender's office countered that Timmers had strong family and community ties and no history of criminal or violent behavior. Axam said the judge could safely release Timmers and have him monitored.
Even looking at the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, Axam said, Timmers had a legitimate grievance, although he took it up with the government in an ill-advised way.
"He no doubt understands the seriousness of the situation he has placed himself in," Axam said.
Axam and the family declined to comment.