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Search warrant: Bomb-making materials seized from apartment where chemicals were found

Ed Treleven | Wisconsin State JournalFebruary 24, 2018
The contents of a garage at the Timberlake Village Apartments on Madison's Far West Side are examined by investigators on Thursday. Chemicals in the garage and an apartment, belonging to Brian Campbell, are being cleared out after the apartment building was evacuated Tuesday.
The contents of a garage at the Timberlake Village Apartments on Madison's Far West Side are examined by investigators on Thursday. Chemicals in the garage and an apartment, belonging to Brian Campbell, are being cleared out after the apartment building was evacuated Tuesday.

Madison police have seized what appeared to be bomb-making materials from a Far West Side apartment building where residents were evacuated this week, according to a search warrant filed Friday.

According to an inventory that was filed with the warrant, police on Wednesday seized green fuse cord, a homemade detonator, a metal pipe, a metal switch and a threaded brass pipe cap. Police also seized several pieces of computer equipment, including several hard drives.

The warrant was sought by police on Wednesday to supersede a search warrant that police obtained on Tuesday, the day that police and firefighters were called to an apartment building at 7410 Timber Lake Trail to investigate strong odors that were ultimately traced to the apartment of Brian N. Campbell.

Campbell, 30, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree reckless endangerment and remained in the Dane County Jail on Friday. He may appear in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday.

According to the search warrant filed Friday, police attempted to execute their initial search warrant at the apartment on Tuesday but Madison police Capt. Corey Nelson said that officers were driven back “due to the presence of biological and chemical hazards” and were unable to collect the evidence they had initially sought.

The entire building was evacuated, and residents have not yet been able to return.

In addition to the apartment, the warrant sought permission to search a lower-level garage at the apartment building.

The search warrants sought evidence of explosives and explosive components that included timers, fuses, accelerants, gunpowder, blasting caps, piping, chemicals, containers or anything else used to make explosives.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain on Friday declined to discuss what the investigation has found so far.

He said, though, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to assist with removing chemicals from the apartment and garage and hopes to finish doing that by Saturday afternoon. Residents would be allowed to return then, he said.

According to the search warrant:

The operations manager for Timberlake Village Apartments told police that after residents complained of an odor, he and maintenance staff checked apartments and found the source of the smell in Campbell’s apartment, describing it as a “citronella” smell.

He told police that in the living room he saw a kind of glass chemistry set with powders “all over the place, and said it appeared that the fireplace was being used to heat up chemicals. Police who entered the apartment later saw torches and bottles of ammonia, bleach, isopropyl alcohol, tubes and burners and ceramic heaters that were being used to heat liquids.

Photos of the apartment were shown to Wisconsin Army National Guard science officer Charlotte Koshick, who said they depicted possible components of improvised explosives. Koshick saw in the photos what appeared to be burn marks on the carpet and walls, and a fan directed toward a vessel containing chemicals to cool it and prevent a reaction.

Campbell is currently on a deferred prosecution contract with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office after pleading guilty in November 2016 to misdemeanor battery for an incident that occurred in September 2016 at Hoofers recreation club on the UW-Madison campus.

According to a criminal complaint, the incident happened after Campbell and another sailing club member threw plastic cups at one another. The cup thrown at Campbell contained some ice cream, which got on his jacket and made him angry, the complaint states. The woman said Campbell attacked her, got on top of her and applied pressure to her throat with his forearm.

Under the deferred prosecution agreement, which ends on May 30, the battery charge would be dismissed if Campbell fulfills the terms of the contract, which likely includes not being charged with new crimes.

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