ATF busts New York teen with homemade explosives, silencer and illegal rifle

Federal agents in Ithaca, New York arrested a teen after discovering a homemade silencer and explosive device in his apartment near Cornell University earlier this month.

Maximilien R. Reynolds, 19, faces charges in district court for possession of a destructive device and a silencer, as well as aiding and abetting the straw purchase of a rifle, the U.S. Attorneys Office in Syracuse announced March 16.

Reynolds, a former student at the Ivy League university, was attending class at a local community college March 7 when the Ithaca Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation appeared at his doorstep in the Collegetown neighborhood. Reynolds allegedly roused the suspicions of Walmart employees after buying ammunition, camping gear, drill bits, hacksaw blades, knives, miscellaneous tools and a few other items from the store with a gift card earlier that same day.

Agents learned from his girlfriend he’d been expressing manic behavior, nearly two years after local law enforcement detained the teen under the state’s mental hygiene law, according to court documents. An ATF agent later noted the messy state of Reynolds’s apartment, with mathematical equations scribbled on the windows and tactical equipment, knives and chemicals used for making explosive lying in plain sight.

Agents returned to Reynolds’s apartment a second time March 7 and questioned him about his Walmart purchases. The teen later confessed to owning a Savage MSR-15 Patrol rifle he paid an acquaintance $200 to buy for him. He was  then transported to the Cayuga Medical Center for admission and psychiatric evaluation, according to court documents.

ATF agents found mortar round fireworks modified with steel or lead shot to “cause injury to people nearby” during a search of Reynolds’s apartment. He also possessed 300 live rounds of ammunition for his rifle — mostly contained in high capacity magazines — two sets of ballistic body armor, a gas mask, a metal or steel pipe with one end cap, ball bearings and numerous labeled chemicals known for manufacturing homemade explosives, according to court documents. Similar chemicals were found Reynolds’s two storage lockers, as well as smokeless powder, another mortar round and pyrotechnic fuse.

“Collectively, all these items suggest a specific recipe for large scale destruction,” said Peter Tyler, Ithaca’s police chief, in an interview with the New York Times last week.

Reynolds’s straw purchasing charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 penalty. He faces an additional 20 years combined for the firearm and homemade silencer, plus three years supervised release and a $10,000 fine.

Reynolds’s attorney said in court records his client will rely on an insanity defense.

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