HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a shocking indictment made public Wednesday, prosecutors allege a Honolulu man who called himself “Pyro Pelican” on social media was plotting to attack an apartment complex with a chemical weapon ― and had gone as far as purchasing ingredients.
A federal grand jury indicted Ethan Sandomire, 20, with possessing a chemical weapon and an unregistered destructive device. He was arrested March 29 and remains in custody.
Federal prosecutors said between December 2019 and March 2020, Sandomire conducted extensive online research into explosives and related topics, including with such search terms as “how much explosives to destroy a building” and “the threat to buildings from explosive devices.”
He also allegedly had incriminating files on his computer, ranging from instructional materials on how to create destructive weapons to plans for an attack on a Honolulu building.
Sandomire’s attorney, Thomas Otake, said in a statement that his client was 19 at the time of his arrest, has autism, “and was not planning to harm anyone.”
“It’s unfortunate that the US Attorney is once again inflaming the public by over-sensationalizing the facts of a case in the media,” Otake said, in the statement.
But prosecutors say Sandomire went as far as scoping out an unnamed residential complex in Honolulu, where there are 450 residential units, several commercial spaces, and a multi-level grocery store.
Court documents say he asked for the floor plans from a front desk worker, who didn’t release them.
Prosecutors say Sandomire also purchased items from a hardware store that could be used as ingredients in the creation of a toxic gas. And from online vendors, Sandomire bought other materials, including fuses, igniters, a flare gun and 36 flares, and electronic matches.
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At the time of his arrest, authorities seized large amounts of materials that authorities said could serve as ingredients for a destructive weapon, such as aluminum powder and tripwire systems.
Prosecutors also said:
- In February 2020, Sandomire downloaded a document called “Building Demolition Plan.”
- In March, he conducted extensive research on explosive materials and skyscraper construction.
- Also that month, he created a noted on his computer that read in part, “fill a large dense populated area with nerve gas ... spawn bio weapons everywhere.”
The charge of possessing a chemical weapon carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars.
The count of owning an unregistered destructive device carries of penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji Price said the case underscores the need for continued vigilance. “My office will use the tools at its disposal to protect the community from those who possess destructive devices and chemical weapons," he said, in a statement.
“These kinds of cases underscore the importance of vigilant action by law enforcement to protect the public from the acquisition and use of materials that can cause devastating harm to our communities.”