Concerned citizens called 911 about a man sharpening knives outside a Canyon Road hardware store, but it turned out a homemade bomb was the bigger threat.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies responded Saturday to the McClendon’s at 11307 Canyon Road E. after people reported a man with four large knives.
A deputy patted the 26-year-old man down and searched his backpack, which allegedly contained a boomerang-looking knife and a screwdriver attachment filed into a shank.
The man protested being searched, claiming he was an undercover cop working with Milton police and the U.S. Navy, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
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Because the deputy only found two knives, he scoured the area outside the hardware store for the other two weapons the callers had spotted.
A soda bottle, filled with orange liquid and under a fence, caught the deputy’s eye because the man had similar bottles in his backpack.
Turns out the item was a homemade explosive device that could have severely injured or killed anyone within 10 to 15 feet, according to bomb experts.
A bomb squad removed the explosive from the shopping area and rendered it safe.
The deputy arrested the man on suspicion of malicious placement of explosives and possession of dangerous weapons.
His father told deputies his son is mentally ill and believes he is a special military agent, Troyer said.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653