Terra Sigillata

A Longmont, Colorado, engineer has been released on bail after backyard explosions led law enforcement officials to find a cache of chemicals and homemade explosive literature at his suburban home.

According to the Rocky Mountain News,

Ronald Swerlein, who allegedly rousted his neighbors with explosions in the middle of the night, was told Monday he must post $50,000 to get out of the Boulder County Jail.

Swerlein will be formally charged Friday, possibly for possession of explosive devices after authorities removed more than 400 chemicals from his Longmont home over the weekend. He also could face drug charges for allegedly grinding up prescription pain medication and snorting it, prosecutors said.

What struck me, though, was this photograph documenting the seizure of “dozens of bottles of Mega EPA/DHA vitamins.”

Now my explosives chemistry is admittedly a little weak but the primary source of EPA/DHA, fish oil, is not normally considered an intermediate in homemade explosives. So, either Mr Swerlein was very concerned about his cardiovascular health or he was conducting some interesting experiments.

Not to make light of this situation, neighbors are obviously very concerned:

In addition to the chemicals, [Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Katharina] Booth said authorities found books with titles such as Don’t Get Mad, Get Even; Your Revenge is in the Mail, and Home-made Explosives.

They also found shotguns and rifles, and “more ammunition in his home than at the Longmont Police Department,” Booth said.

But the large amount of EPA/DHA supplements have me bewildered.

I welcome any insights from more chemistry-minded readers.

Comments

  1. #1 adam
    June 22, 2007

    Not to sound like a conspiracy nut, but do you think that photo was published on purpose?

  2. #2 Joe
    June 28, 2007

    Okay, explosives are an esoteric field and few chemists know much about it. I seriously doubt one would spend money on supplements to make explosives, since so many of them are cheaply made.

    However, If I were investigating a potential terrorist, I would want to know that things are what they say on the label (i.e., not concealed explosives). On the other hand, if one were concerned that the capsules (I assume) may contain explosives, one would be wise to wear something more substantial than plastic gloves.

  3. #3 Tom
    August 20, 2007

    Perhaps he was just using the fish oil containers to store other substances? …or they were checking them out to be sure/thorough?

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