Man sentenced to 10 years for pipe bombing of MD police vehicle

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Kyle Rutger Mueller, 22. Credit: Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

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BALTIMORE, MD – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell, III sentenced Kyle Mueller, age 24, of Thurmont, Maryland, to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for malicious use of explosive materials in connection with the detonation of a pipe bomb on a Thurmont Police Department vehicle.  The sentence was imposed on September 19, 2018.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Rob Cekada of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; and Chief Gregory L. Eyler of the Thurmont Police Department.

“Kyle Mueller admitted constructing a pipe bomb that not only damaged a police vehicle, but caused bomb fragments to be blown into an officer’s residence,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “Today’s sentence sends the message that this type of violent attack on law enforcement cannot and will not be tolerated.”

“This dedicated officer was targeted at his home, a place he should have been able to feel safe after returning from a day of serving and protecting his community,” said Special Agent in Charge Cekada. “This case should make it clear to anyone with violent intentions against police officers: ATF, our state and local partners, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are united in our efforts to end this vicious cycle of attacks on law enforcement officers.”

According to Mueller’s plea agreement, on August 3, 2016, a pipe bomb was detonated on the hood of a Thurmont Police Department vehicle that was parked in front of an officer’s residence.  The explosion caused significant damage to the police vehicle.  Pieces of the device also entered the residence through the front picture window, traveling through the curtains and into an interior wall.  Parts of the device were recovered, including a piece of galvanized pipe, end caps, and explosive filler powder.  Finishing nails were taped to the exterior of the galvanized pipe.

Investigation revealed that between July 20 and August 1, 2016, Mueller purchased black powder at a firearms store in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania; a roll of cannon fuse from an online company; and pipe and end caps at a store in Pennsylvania.  All of these items, which were utilized to construct the explosive, were purchased using a credit/debit card used by and in the name of Mueller.  The last four digits of the credit/debit card matched those on a fast food receipt that was found on the street where the explosion occurred a few days prior to the detonation.

Mueller was arrested on August 5, 2016, waived his rights, and agreed to be interviewed by law enforcement agents.  During the interview, Mueller admitted to purchasing black powder, pipe, and end caps and to constructing the destructive device.  Mueller also admitted that he was in the area of the explosion at the time that the destructive device was detonated. A residence used by Mueller was searched on August 5, 2016, and law enforcement recovered metal shavings, various drill bit sets, grey adhesive tape, and 2.5 inch nails similar to those used to construct the explosive device detonated on August 3, 2016.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF and the Thurmont Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney John W. Sippel, Jr., who prosecuted the case.

THURMONT, MD -- An arrest was made Friday night after a pipe bomb was detonated on the hood of a marked Thurmont, Md. Police Department vehicle Wednesday night.

Kyle Rutger Mueller, 22, of Thurmont, was arrested in Thurmont and has been charged with four counts related to the manufacturing, storing, possessing and using a destructive device; reckless endangerment; and two counts of malicious destruction of property.

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Thurmont Police Chief said this case had some people in the town afraid to leave their homes and Mueller's arrest will be them at ease.

"Some people don’t think that’s going to happen in a small town. It does happen and we’ve seen it," added Chief Greg Eyler.

Lead investigator Det. Jody Maybush said they connected Mueller to the explosion by a discarded bag from Burger King that had a receipt in it. Maybush said they reached out to gun and hardware stores in the area and found Mueller had purchased the materials necessary for a pipe bomb at several stores. At one, he purchased the materials with a debit card and they matched the numbers on that receipt with the one numbers on the receipt from the Burger King bag.

Mueller was actually spotted by the police at the same Burger King by police on Friday night and was arrested a short time later.

Maybush said after he was arrested, Mueller admitted to building the pipe bomb.

"According to him, his plan was not to target a police vehicle," added Maybush.

When asked how much credence he gave that statement, Maybush said that the pipe bomb wasn't tossed out a car window, but was deliberately placed. He added that Mueller has had run-ins with police in the past, including a traffic stop with the officer whose car he's alleged to have detonated the pipe bomb on.

"So as far as credence to that statement or that answer to his interview, I would have to suggest otherwise," added Maybush.

Mueller is being held at the Frederick County Detention Center on a $300,000 bond.

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