Bomb-maker pleads guilty in federal court

Bomb-maker pleads guilty in federal court

A 27-year-old bomb-maker arrested in February with suspected explosive devices and all the ingredients to make more pleaded guilty Aug. 21 to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown.

Mark Avery Rudd pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered destructive device before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin.

Before the “Beaumont bomber” struck in April and May, ultimately causing thousands in damage to a building at a local church and resulting in the arrest of suspect Jonathan Torres, police in the city had already recently arrested Rudd with apparent explosive devices and bomb-building materials of his own.

Feb. 8, the FBI’s Bomb Squad and other federal agents along with officers of the Beaumont Police Department and Beaumont firefighters converged upon the Belmont Street residence where Rudd lived to serve a search warrant and discovered two apparent explosive devices, one of which was later destroyed in a controlled detonation performed onsite at the home.

Rudd had reportedly made vague written threats in his personal notebook and had used two-liter bottles and other standard household items, along with several not-so-standard components, to build the potentially deadly devices. While executing the search warrant, investigators located the two devices inside a cooler in a hall closet. One was a 2-liter bottle filled with an unknown viscous liquid with wires extending from the top of the bottle. One of the wires connected to an unknown device inside the liquid.  Because the device could not be safely identified, it was destroyed in accordance with agency safety procedures. 

The second device was safely removed from the container and dismantled by federal agents. It consisted of a bottle of match heads, a friction plate or strike pad, and a pyrotechnic device with a fuse, which was duct taped to bottles of butane and capsaicin dog repellant, information released after Rudd’s arrest revealed. Inside Rudd’s bedroom investigators found match sticks with the red ignition material removed, two pyrotechnic devices, electronic rocker switches, an electronic timer with wires connected to a sensor, assorted wires, various diameters of pipe, and a ballistic vest with a neck protector attachment.

Investigators also found a 21-page notebook with detailed writing on explosives and explosives construction. At the top of the first page was a handwritten note stating, “This is why you should not piss me off kabluey Chaos.”

The Examiner was on-scene as firefighters and agents prepared to detonate the dangerous materials discovered at the Belmont Street address. Officers gathered in the street as technicians readied the explosion.

Following the discovery of the devices, Rudd and his roommate were questioned, as was a woman who pulled into the driveway as the investigation ensued. The roommate and the woman were released, but Rudd was taken into custody.

During the operation, the FBI sent out a warning about the controlled detonation near Belmont Street and Dixie Drive, cautioning residents to stay inside and assuring their safety.

Feb. 9, interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Alan R. Jackson announced Rudd’s arrest pursuant to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court charging him with possession of an unregistered destructive device. Rudd appeared in federal court on the charges that afternoon.

Rudd is awaiting sentencing. Under federal statutes, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison for his crime, the maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress. The sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors, reports the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Beaumont Police Department, Beaumont Fire Department, and Beaumont Emergency Medical Services.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice.