A July 22 Metro article incorrectly characterized the Free State Project as an anti-government group. The group advocates more limited government. (Published 7/27/2005)

Authorities in Southern Maryland said they found a cache of guns and explosives, a methamphetamine lab and literature from an anti-government group at the home of a La Plata man.

Lawrence Fox, 23, was arrested Tuesday after co-workers at Belk Department Store in California, Md., reported that he was in possession of a handgun on store property, according to charging documents in District Court.

When police searched Fox's 1995 Infinity, they found two handguns and almost 200 rounds of ammunition in addition to a biochemical suit and a black ski mask, according to Cpl. William Rosado, spokesman for the St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

That night, a raid on the La Plata townhouse in Charles County where Fox lives with his mother turned up more weapons and explosives as well as a small methamphetamine lab in his bathroom, Rosado said.

"As far as I can remember, we've never had anything like this with the meth lab, the explosive devices and the guns," Rosado said as he surveyed the 200 items taken from Fox's car and home.

Among the items confiscated were two grenades with the black powder and fuses to make them active, a gas mask, a hollowed-out fire extinguisher ideal for a pipe bomb, and a mortar, Rosado said. Police also confiscated books on weapons including "The Chemistry of Powder & Explosives," "Full Auto Conversion of the AK-47" and "The Poor Man's James Bond, Vol. 1."

Also uncovered in the raid were seven rifles, including a collapsible long rifle that could be concealed underneath baggy clothing, a SWAT-style sniper's rifle and two rifles with bayonets, said Cpl. Michael Gray of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Rosado estimated that there were more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, including bullets that had been hollowed out and altered with ball bearings to make them capable of piercing armor.

Two military-issue bulletproof vests and a camouflaged Kevlar helmet also were found in the townhouse, authorities said.

Authorities also found what they describe as a "correspondence" between Fox and the Free State Project, an anti-government group that wants 20,000 people to move to New Hampshire to help oust the government there, according to its Web page. They showed a reporter an article about the group and its plans that they said was in Fox's room. They declined to allow examination of another document that appeared to be a letter.

Rosado said that Fox's mother, Dorothy Russo, did not know anything about her son's weapons and that he kept the door locked all the time.

Russo hung up the phone when contacted by The Washington Post. Neither Russo nor her son -- who was released on his own recognizance Wednesday night -- answered the door at their home.

Evan Lewis, 22, whose mother lives down the street from Fox's townhouse and who attended St. Mary's Ryken High School while Fox was there, said Fox was quiet and kept to himself.

Fox has been charged with two counts of a handgun violation in St. Mary's. The state's attorneys offices in St. Mary's and Charles counties would not comment on whether more charges would be forthcoming.

"That's the charge that was available to me to take him into custody while the investigation continues," said Daniel White, assistant state's attorney in St. Mary's, who is in charge of firearms prosecutions.

Co-workers of Lawrence Fox told police he had a gun at work.