A former Oxford Circle man is facing federal weapons charges after he allegedly stashed six makeshift pipe bombs in his mother’s basement.
Michael Beer’s mom found the devices inside her home on the 6100 block of Shisler St. and called 911 shortly before 10 a.m. on Thursday, authorities said. Officers evacuated numerous homes on the block and an adjacent block of Benner Street, said Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan of the Homeland Security Bureau.
Members of the police Bomb Squad found the foot-long cylindrical devices inside a cardboard box in a corner of the basement where Michael Beer, 36, lived until about three months ago, before he moved into a Roseto, Northampton County, apartment with his girlfriend, according to a federal arrest warrant. Authorities arrested him there later on Thursday.
All six pipes were about two inches in diameter and had caps on both ends. One had a hole in its cap and what appeared to be shotgun shells inside of it. Another device had a hobby-type fuse protruding from its cap.
Members of the police Bomb Squad took the devices outside and detonated the one with the fuse. The device exploded, causing a loud bang and showering the area with debris. Investigators determined that several shotgun shells had been packed inside the pipe, along with what appeared to be a propellant substance.
Residents were permitted to return to their homes shortly after 2 p.m., Sullivan said. According to Sullivan, the device with the fuse appeared to be “in a more advanced state of production” and “less stable” than the others. Members of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives questioned Michael Beer’s mom and her boyfriend about the devices, then used a confidential informant to place a recorded telephone call to Beer on his cell phone.
During the conversation, allegedly stated that all he did was “place some shotgun shells inside a pipe,” and, “I don’t know what the big deal is.” Beer apparently realized that authorities were listening and allegedly told the informant, “You threw me under the bus.”
Police and ATF agents arrested Beer that night at his apartment in Roseto. He was charged with possessing a destructive device, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. ••