Michael Christopher Estes
Estes put an explosive device outside the entrance to the baggage claim area of Asheville Regional Airport after midnight on October 6, 2016. The explosive device was made of nails, a shotgun shell, and an explosive material of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil in a Mason jar. Estes wrote "For God & Country" on the strike strip of a matchbox attached to the explosive device, and he wrote "For All the V/N Vets Out There!!!" on tape attached to the device. Attached to the device was a clock with an alarm positioned at 6 o'clock, but the alarm was not set. The bomb did not go off. When the airport's police were alerted to the suspicious bags, the police evacuated the baggage claim area, and bomb technicians were able to disarm the device. In the woods near the airport, law enforcement also found an REI backpack that Estes had left. In the backpack, Estes had put gloves, fuel, a roll of tape, and an alarm clock bell that matched the one in the bag near the baggage area.
The backpack was tracked to a local REI store. Estes had paid in cash, but he had used his REI loyalty card, which had his name linked to it. After a photograph of Estes from surveillance cameras was circulated, police officers from Asheville Police Department found Estes by a Walmart near the airport the next day, and he was arrested. Following his arrest, Estes confessed responsibility, saying he had wanted to start a war on United States soil.
After being arrested, Estes claimed he had planted the device at the airport to train law enforcement about how explosive devices were made so they would be prepared to fight terrorists that he were coming to the United States to wage war.
Estes was charged with attempted malicious use of explosive materials and unlawful possession of explosive materials in an airport. Estes pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of explosive material on January 12, 2018.
Jimmie Estes, Michael Estes' father, said he had not spoken to his son in several years and that their relationship had fractured after Michael Estes joined the Navy. Jimmie Estes said that the family was not Native American and that they were of European ancestry, which agrees with other state records.
The month before planting the explosive device at the airport, Estes had been jailed on charges of breaking and entering, larceny, and attacking a man with a hatchet and knife in Swain County, North Carolina. Estes had served seven days in prison.
- Henderson, Bruce (January 14, 2018). "Tennessee man pleads guilty to Asheville airport bomb charges". The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina). p. 8A.
- Domonoske, Camila (October 13, 2017). "Suspect In Would-Be Airport Bombing Nabbed With Help From REI". National Public Radio.
- "FBI: Man left jar filled with explosive chemicals, nails at North Carolina airport". CBS News. October 10, 2017.
- "United States of America v. Michael Christopher Estates: Criminal Complaint". United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. October 8, 2017.
- Boyle, John (October 10, 2017). "Asheville airport bomb suspect wanted 'to fight a war' on US soil". Citizen-Times. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- King, Shaun (October 11, 2017). "The Airport Bomber From Last Week You Never Heard About". The Intercept. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- May, Charlie (October 11, 2017). "A thwarted airport bombing receives little national press — and some activists cry foul". Salon.
- MacGuill, Dan (October 12, 2017). "Attempted Bomb Attack on a North Carolina Airport?" Snopes. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Drew, Jonathan (October 10, 2017). "FBI: Man left explosive jar at North Carolina airport". Associated Press.
- "Man left jail days before arrest for alleged airport attack". Associated Press. October 15, 2017.
- Davis, Dillon (October 14, 2017) "1 week later, here's what we know about would-be AVL bomber". Citizen Times.
- "Michael Christopher Estes". Offender Public Information. North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
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