Feds: Alleged Wheatfield bomb maker had seven IEDs

Jul 23, 2015

A Wheatfield man who caused an explosion in his family's garage earlier this week has been charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Sheriff's deputies were summoned to a Walmore Avenue home early Tuesday morning after a report of an explosion. Once inside, authorities found an area where explosives were being manufactured. Michael O'Neill, 45, suffered a serious foot injury in the blast and remains in an area hospital.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul discussed the charges filed against Michael O'Neill in his office Thursday afternoon.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO News

O'Neill is the stepson of Niagara County Legislature Chairman William Ross.

Seven apparent improvised explosive devices were discovered, along with various materials used in making a bomb. One device, labeled "powder w/nails" had both nails and BBs packed into it. Also found were two bottles labeled as flash powder, a bag of potassium perchlorate and 36 shotgun shells, among other items.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says these were particularly dangerous pipe bombs.

"One of the explosive devices appear to contain shrapnel. So, the fact that we had somebody with explosive devices combined with the fact that, in effect, it's an IED if it has shrapnel that it would be something that would be appropriate to act upon at the earliest juncture," Hochul said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

"The defendant may have been trying to seal the end of one of his explosive devices with a hot glue gun and perhaps that ignited either the fuse or the particular explosives that were in that bomb. At that point, the injury happened and the explosion ensued," he added.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if O'Neill is convicted. It is not clear when he will have a first court appearance since he is still in the hospital being treated for his injuries.