Man accused of throwing homemade bombs at detective’s Swanville property

Posted Jan. 17, 2012, at 5:21 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 17, 2012, at 6:54 p.m.

SWANVILLE, Maine — Police arrested a Waldo man after three improvised chemical explosives were thrown earlier this month at the property of a Waldo County Sheriff’s Office detective.

One of the homemade bombs detonated, according to Joe Thomas, assistant Maine state fire marshal, but no one was injured.

Jesse Newton, 24, of Waldo has been charged with criminal use of explosives, a Class C crime.

The bombs were thrown at Detective Merl Reed’s Oak Hill Road property in Swanville at some point during the evening of Jan. 4. Thomas described them as “overpressure devices” of the type that’s often referred to as a soda acid bomb. The explosives are chemical mixtures generally placed in a three-liter soda bottle, along with some aluminum foil. The combination should create gas which fills the bottle with pressure, causing it to burst, he said.

“Usually, this type is more for the noise effect, but it can cause damage. No question about it,” Thomas said.

The biggest potential problem would stem from the mixed chemicals being inhaled, he said.

The Waldo County Sheriff’s Office notified the Maine state fire marshal’s office that night and investigators came to the home the next day. An agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also assisted with the investigation, which is now closed.

Newton was booked at Waldo County Jail in Belfast, and his bail has been set at $100,000 surety or $15,000 cash, according to Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker. Newton is being represented by attorney Steve Peterson of Rockport.

Walker wrote in an email that there is a possibility that the U.S. Attorney’s Office may decide to prosecute the case federally.

The ATF agent said he could not comment on the case. Information about Newton’s motive in the alleged attack was not available Tuesday.

BDN archives show that Newton has had several drug-related convictions in the past few years.

Reed is a longtime officer who also serves as Stockton Springs Police Department supervisor. He is known around the county for making presentations to school and other groups with the department’s drug-sniffing dog, Neva.

Newton remained in custody Tuesday night at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, according to a Waldo County Jail official.

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