ATF: Man said he could detonate explosives if law officers showed up

Alan Jerome Rhodes
Alan Jerome Rhodes

A Perkinston man made explosives and told agents they could be detonated if law enforcement officers showed up, an affidavit in federal court says.

Alan Rhodes, 52, arrested after a domestic assault complaint, is held with no bond on indicted charges involving destructive devices and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Records in U.S. District Court show he plans to plead guilty.

The devices are explosive targets that blow up when struck by a bullet, a court paper said.

Rhodes came under federal scrutiny after Stone County deputies responded Oct. 31 to a domestic complaint. The woman who called for help told them Rhodes was making bombs, an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent said in a sworn statement.

The woman reported Rhodes had grabbed her, pushed her down on the bed and choked her. The woman said he blocked doorways so she couldn’t get away while he screamed and called her names.

“He then put a gun to her head, telling her he would blow her (expletive) head off,” a sheriff’s official said in an affidavit.

Court papers allege Rhodes had four devices in the house along with fuses, metal pipes, blasting caps and smokeless powder.

Rhodes reportedly told an ATF agent the device could be put at the end of the driveway and detonated if law enforcement officers approached.

Weapons found near a door to the outside included a baseball bat with protruding nails, swords, hatchets, handmade spears, and fighting-type axes, a document said.

An ATF agent has described one device as a gallon glass jar with a smaller jar in the center of the target. The larger jar contained shrapnel, such as nails, glass and wire, and the smaller jar contained an accelerant.

An ATF agent has testified the devices could seriously injure or kill someone.

A court paper described the devices as Tannerite. That’s a commercial product that provides ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder in separate containers so they can be mixed and shaken to produce an explosive. It wasn’t clear if Rhodes bought the brand-name product or bought the ingredients with a plan to mix them himself.

Explosive targets are popular among target shooters. ATF does not regulate explosive targets, but says after the key ingredients are mixed, the devices cannot be transported.

Federal law also prohibits certain persons from having explosive materials: An unlawful drug user or addict; person who’s been committed to a mental institution; a person with a dishonorable military discharge; and a person under indictment or convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year of incarceration.

Rhodes has a history of alcohol or substance abuse, his detention order said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews