(As originally published with bells and whistles, Wed, November 9th 2022, 1:17 AM EST)
ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — The suspect in this case was also the victim.
On the evening of July 2, the bomb squad was called “to investigate a possible explosion-related injury which occurred in the city of Royal Palm Beach.”
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A detective with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office wrote that Clayton Merritt, 32, “sustained significant injuries to his left hand, including the partial loss of a finger, consistent with injuries from an explosion. Merritt was transported to [the hospital] for treatment.”
The arrest report continued with Merritt’s mother telling the detective, “Merritt came to her and told her he was going to be detonating a device in the backyard, which he had constructed from PVC pipe, and the pyrotechnic powders he harvested from inside consumer fireworks. [His mother] advised Merritt wanted to warn her so that she and her dog would not be afraid. Merritt then went into the backyard to set the device off.
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“[His mother] stated she heard a large explosion, and a few seconds later, Merritt came inside the residence, bleeding heavily from the hands. [His mother] stated Merritt told her that ‘Mom, you were right,’ and that he regretted making the device. [His mother] attempted to provide first aid and called 911.”
At the hospital, Merritt told another detective “that the injury he sustained was due to a device which he manufactured from PVC pipe and pyrotechnic powders, what he referred to as ‘gunpowder.’”
That night at the home, the detective executed a search warrant and wrote, “Inside the garage, which [the mother] stated Merritt used exclusively, was located a worktable with multiple items on it consistent with the manufacture of improvised explosive devices. Located on the table were tools for cutting and grinding consumer fireworks, including wire cutters, snips, and a white stone mortar and pestle. There were also numerous containers, including blue plastic ‘Solo’ cups and small red ‘Solo’ cups, some of which bore markings indicating they held back powder or flash powder. There were also various funnels and scoops, some of which had been improvised from aluminum foil. Nearly everything on the table was covered in some amount of a fine gray powder, consistent with pyrotechnic flash powder. Located inside the stone mortar was a significant quantity of the gray powder. The powder in the mortar flame tested positive for the presence of an energetic material, and swabs of the tools on the table tested positive for the presence of chlorate-based explosive residue, using an American Innovations XD-2i explosive trace detector. Samples of the powder inside the mortar were collected for laboratory testing.
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“Also discovered on the table were tools for working with PVC pipe, including PVC pipe fittings, PVC glue, a drill and sandpaper. Additionally, located in the garage was a partially full box of consumer pyrotechnics and the worktable was a package of sparklers.
“Finally in the garage, below the worktable, was a yellow plastic container with a clear lid. Visible inside the container were multiple smaller containers, all of which appeared to contain some form of pyrotechnic powders. Several of the smaller containers had the word ‘flash’ and ‘flash pebbles’ written on them in red marker. Also in the container was a length of green pyrotechnic fuse.
“In the backyard of the residence, I recovered multiple fragments of PVC pipe from the scene of the explosion. The fragments were broken in a manner consistent with a detonation. One of the pipe fragments was partially wrapped with duct tape. The fragment of pipe which was partially wrapped in duct tape tested positive for the presence of chlorate-based explosive residue, using an American Innovations XD-2i explosive trace detector.
“Based on my training and experience as an FBI-certified bomb technician, I recognized this combination of PVC pipe, pyrotechnic powder, and fusing as components of an improvised explosive device commonly known as a ‘pipe bomb.’”
Clayton Merritt was charged with manufacturing a destructive device, which is a felony.
He was booked on Oct. 28 at 10:45 a.m. and released in lieu of $10,000 bond the following evening at 8:40.