A call from a Florida woman about a bomb she found in her home led to the arrest of her Army veteran husband accused of leaving an improvised explosive device at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility near St. Petersburg, Florida.
Mark Edward Allen, 60, of St. Petersburg, a patient at that facility, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the IED found at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center May 29. according to court documents.
The device was found around 1 p.m. near the east entrance of the sprawling facility, near a Veterans Benefits Administration regional office. The incident interrupted traffic, but otherwise did not affect any patient treatment or other operations. No one was hurt in the incident.
VA Police, the Tampa Police Department Bomb Squad and the FBI were among those to respond, according to a criminal complaint filed by FBI Special Agent Christopher Franck, who handled IEDs while serving as a captain in the Marines.
After responding to the call, Franck and the TPD bomb squad used an X-ray tool to examine the device.
“The X-ray revealed, among other components, a 9-volt battery, electric wires, an improvised initiator, an unknown powder , and a clothes-pin switch,” Franck wrote in his complaint.
The components, he wrote, “are commonly used to construct improvised explosive devices.”
After bomb techs used a tool to disarm the device, they used a robot to dissemble it and examine its contents, which included an unknown black powder, which was collected by the FBI for further examination.
As the FBI continued to investigate the incident, they collected surveillance video from the hospital, as well as a Wawa convenience store across the street.
The video showed a white male, with a long gray beard and wearing a baseball hat with the Army logo leaving the hospital facility shortly before 5 p.m.
Two days later, the TPD bomb squad was dispatched to deal with another bomb, this one found in a home in St. Petersburg.
A woman, whose name was not released in the court document, called the St. Petersburg Police Department to report that Allen, her husband, had made a bomb at their home. She told police that while her husband was sleeping, she put the IED from her home in the trunk of her car and drove it to a friend’s house “because she was scared.”
Bomb techs responding to that device used an X-ray tool and found, among other components, a tube filled with a light bulb, designed to initiate an explosion, electric wires, and an unknown powder.
Once again, Franck wrote, the device appeared to be an IED.
After examining that IED, the FBI determined it likely came from the same person who left the bomb at the VA facility.
Franck took a still from the Wawa surveillance video and showed it to Allen’s wife, who confirmed that it was her husband.
The wife said Allen was an Army veteran who goes to the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, located on the campus, for treatment and that he had a scheduled medical appointment there during that week.
Allen was arrested and taken to the Pinellas County Jail, where he is being held without bail on a federal warrant.
He made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday, charged with the possession of unregistered explosives. If convicted, Allen faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.