A 911 call led police to a man they say told his neighbors he planned to detonate a bottle bomb in a local store, according to a search warrant.
Richard Dean Demery, 29, was arrested March 20 and charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction. He was also charged with violating his parole.
On March 20, around 8:55 a.m. 911 received a call “indicating that there were dangerous chemicals and explosives” at a boarding house on the corner of Driver and Liberty streets, according to the warrant.
When police arrived, the house manager “told the officers that he was concerned about a conversation he had with Mr. Demery in which he mentioned the recent bombings in Austin [Texas] being ‘exciting’ and having the materials to make bombs,” investigator J. D. Harris wrote in his application for the warrant.
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“Other residents of the boarding house informed officers that Mr. Demery had recently detonated bombs in the front yard and street behind the home as well as stating that he planned to detonate one of the devices in a ‘Dollar’ store," he wrote.
As of Tuesday evening, Demery remained in Durham County jail on $50,000 secured bail.
Members of the Police Department’s Biological Chemical Emergency Response Team saw debris in the roadway – braided aluminum foil and shrapnel of a clear plastic bottle – that is consistent with a homemade bottle bomb, according to the warrant.
During the search, officers seized muriatic acid, aluminum paper and plastic bottles of various sizes and toilet bowl cleaner, which could be used to make homemade bottle bombs, the warrant states.
Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said in an email that the department gets calls about "bottle type explosives" a few times a year.
“These can result in serious injury – for example, acid could splash in someone’s eyes,” Michael wrote.
A business card provided by a resident of the house indicated the home is run by the nonprofit organization Just a Clean House, Inc., which provides housing for men in addiction recovery, according to its website.
Vernon O’Mar Taylor, director of the organization, declined to comment on the situation.
Demery was convicted of six counts of breaking and entering in other counties from 2014 to 2017, according to court records.
Demery also faces five charges in Pitt County, including misdemeanor larceny, possession/distribution of methamphetamine precursor, and obtaining property by false pretenses, according to court records.
He most recently served seven months in a state prison for a breaking and entering conviction in Wilson County. He was released from state prison on Oct. 22, 2017. He parole was set to end July 19, according to state records.