Baltimore, Maryland – Clayton Alexander McCoy, age 32, of Chesterland, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to transporting explosives with intent to injure and to possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device, in connection with an explosion at a home in Carroll County, Maryland. A resident of the home was the boyfriend of a woman in whom McCoy had a romantic interest.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Toni M. Crosby of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci; Carroll County Sheriff James T. DeWees; and Carroll County State’s Attorney Allan Culver.
According to his guilty plea, McCoy built an explosive bomb in his home in Ohio, then drove the bomb to Victim 1’s home in Carroll County, Maryland, intending to kill the victim. McCoy knew the victim and a woman, who was Victim 1’s girlfriend, for a number of years through a live action role-playing battle game/social club. In October 2020 McCoy expressed romantic feelings for the woman, who informed McCoy that she was in a relationship with Victim 1 and did not share McCoy’s romantic feelings.
Following his rejection by Victim 1’s girlfriend, McCoy devised a plan to build and deliver a bomb to Victim 1’s house with the intent to kill Victim 1 in order to remove him as a romantic rival. McCoy researched the materials and plans for making the victim operated pipe bomb. McCoy traveled to multiple stores and purchased a variety of substances to make explosive powder, as well as other components to manufacture the bomb. To avoid detection by law enforcement, McCoy purchased single items from multiple stores and paid for the materials in cash. McCoy made shrapnel for the inside of the bomb by using an angle grinder saw to cut scrap metal into small, triangular pieces. McCoy inserted the homemade shrapnel and bb’s, into the metal pipe, to increase the deadliness of the pipe bomb when it exploded. McCoy placed the homemade bomb into a white gift box, tied a red ribbon around the box, and armed the firing mechanism so that the bomb would explode when the gift box was opened. Additionally, McCoy placed the gift box containing the bomb into a larger cardboard box with a shipping label that had no return address. Prior to delivering the bomb, McCoy made a prototype and tested the bomb in his yard to ensure that it would detonate.
On October 30, 2020, McCoy placed the homemade bomb in the back of a pickup truck and drove approximately seven hours from Ohio to Victim 1’s residence. McCoy placed the bomb on Victim 1’s front porch just prior to 8:30 a.m., where Victim 1’s grandfather saw the package and brought the package inside the home. Victim 1’s grandfather put the package on the kitchen counter, where it remained until Victim 1’s return. At approximately 5:30 p.m., Victim 1 returned home and saw the cardboard box that was addressed to him. He opened the cardboard box and observed a smaller white box with a red ribbon inside. The victim texted his girlfriend to ask her if she had sent him a present, then took both boxes into his bedroom to open his “gift” in private. As the victim opened the gift box, the bomb detonated. Victim 1 heard a whistling or hissing sound followed by an explosion. The victim was struck in the front of his body by shrapnel and sustained injuries to his chest, legs, and front of his body. He was transported to the hospital where he was treated for injuries caused by the shrapnel and explosion.
The victim was released from the hospital on November 17, 2020. Victim 1 had to use a walker for two weeks following the explosion and underwent multiple surgeries to remove shrapnel from his body, and another surgery on his hand. Multiple pieces of shrapnel remain inside Victim 1’s body. The explosion at Victim 1’s residence caused an estimated $46,690 of damage to the dwelling and contents. The house was uninhabitable until March 2021 and Victim 1 and his grandparents were forced to move out of their home and to live elsewhere while the house was under repairs. The insurance company suffered a loss of $70,061.26 as a direct result of the explosion.
On March 10, 2021, investigators executed a search warrant at McCoy’s residence in Chesterland, Ohio and seized items McCoy used to create the bomb, including the explosive powder. McCoy initially admitted knowing Victim 1 but denied knowing where Victim 1 resided in October 2020. McCoy claimed to have heard about the bombing of Victim 1 through mutual friends but denied having any role in the bombing. During the interview, McCoy named another individual from the role-playing group who McCoy claimed did not like Victim 1. After law enforcement showed McCoy maps of his movements on the day of the bombing that documented McCoy’s travel from Ohio to Victim 1’s residence and then back to Ohio, McCoy admitted that he made and delivered the bomb.
McCoy faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for transporting explosives with intent to injure and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has not yet scheduled sentencing.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the ATF, the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department, and the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow, who is prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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