But the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies who walked through the door of the suburban home in DeBary, Fla., on Sunday were facing more than the usual drunk and disorderly conduct.
Inside the house, law enforcement turned up a stockpile of potentially explosive chemicals and devices, including a hand grenade and a booby-trapped SpongeBob SquarePants lunchbox. The items allegedly belonged to Christopher S. Langer, a troubled 31-year-old whose father called 911 for help late Sunday afternoon.
Mike Chitwood, the Volusia County sheriff, told Orlando’s News 6 the seized chemicals included nitric acid and urea, substances similar to the components used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
“That domestic violence call probably saved us from making national and international news,” Chitwood told the news station Monday. “He has all the components in there to make a weapon of mass destruction.”
According to a statement released on the sheriff’s Facebook page, deputies responded to Scott Langer’s 911 call at 4:11 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The officers then learned the intoxicated Christopher Langer had told his parents he had put an explosive substance inside a grenade. Langer initially denied knowing anything about a grenade, then admitted he had thrown the item out the window into the yard.
“Upon searching the area, the deputy found a metal pineapple-style grenade with a paper clip in place to hold the lever and keep it from exploding,” sheriff spokesman Andrew Gant told the Daytona Beach News Journal.
The house and surrounding residences were evacuated and a bomb squad was called in.
“A search warrant resulted in the discovery of an estimated 200 containers inside the house containing unknown powders, acids and other materials,” Gant told the paper. “Many of them (about 79 at one point) have been placed into a containment area, and many have been determined not to be bomb-making materials but bodily fluids.”
Deputies also discovered manuals on bomb-making, booby traps and guerrilla warfare at the house. A bomb robot detonated a small explosive device in the back yard and another possible explosive was found inside the lunchbox, according to the sheriff.
“He had manuals inside of the house about how to create booby-traps,” Chitwood told reporters. “He had a lunchbox, a SpongeBob SquarePants lunchbox that was all set to go. All it needed was a battery and gunpowder.”
Chitwood said authorities also found about a dozen homemade blasting caps and jars of powder that had been removed from ammunition. “He just didn’t have time or get around to mixing all of these chemicals together to put his bomb in place,” he said. “But he clearly, clearly had intentions.”
County hazmat units and members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives worked for over 13 hours to secure the scene. Chitwood said Langer also kept bottles of his urine in his bedroom along with chemicals he had purchased online. “If I was a roach, I wouldn’t live in that room,” the sheriff said. “That’s how despicable and dirty and feces- and urine-filled that room is. The rest of the house is in pretty good shape.”
The sheriff explained that Langer — who had been hospitalized four times for psychological evaluation — was a heroin addict and told investigators he was “anti-government” and “wanted to take revenge against the system.” He said his plan to was to hurt first responders. Just last month, law enforcement came to the same house after Langer overdosed on heroin. He was revived with Narcan, Chitwood said.
“Two weeks ago we saved your godd–n life, and now we’re here two weeks later and you’re talking about how you want to blow us all up,” the sheriff said.
Langer is currently being charged with making and possessing a destructive device. Chitwood told reporters his office is working with federal authorities to bring additional charges.
“He could have blown up the block,” the sheriff said.