Roommate of Tampa double-homicide suspect arrested on federal explosive charges

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa man who lives with a double homicide suspect accused of killing two others is now facing explosive charges stemming from the murder case, according to a federal arrest report.

Brandon Russell was arrested for possession of unregistered destructive devices and unlawful storage of explosive material on Sunday.

Just two days before his arrest, Russell returned home from the U.S. Army National Guard. That’s the same day police say his roommate, 18-year-old Devon Arthurs, killed two men in the Tampa apartment he shared with Russell.

Officers who responded to the scene of the double homicide found Russell crying outside the door in his camouflage uniform.

Arthurs told police that Russell was his roommate and said, “He doesn’t know what’s going on and just found them like you guys did.”

Arthurs also told police he, Russell and the two victims used to be friends who shared neo-Nazi beliefs until Arthurs recently converted to Muslim.

According to federal paperwork, Arthurs told FBI agents Russell participated in online neo-Nazi internet chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructures.

Tampa police then got a search warrant. Detectives say they found a cooler in a garage beneath the apartment containing an explosive known as HMTD. Officers say they also found explosive precursors, electric matches and empty bullet casings with fuses that could be used as detonators.

The FBI’s criminal complaint states the materials found in the garage would constitute a bomb. An ATF Explosive Enforcement officer later confirmed the HMTD combined with other chemicals and materials met the definition of a “destructive device.”

Officers then searched Russell’s bedroom and found Nazi and white supremacist propaganda, including a framed picture of Timothy McVeigh, the man who bombed the Oklahoma City federal building. Firearms and ammunition were also found and bomb technicians were alerted to two sources of radiation by their pagers.

Court paperwork says before asking for an attorney, Russell admitted to FBI agents he made the HMTD found in the garage and that he owned the explosive precursors. He claims he had them because he used to be in an engineering club at the University of South Florida and used the HMTD to boost rockets that sent balloons into the atmosphere. But agents say HMTD is too energetic and volatile for that use.

Russell allegedly also admitted his neo-Nazi beliefs to agents and told them he’s a member of a group called “Atom Waffen,” which is German for “atomic weapon.”


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