WASECA PLOT: Federal agents confirm dangerous chemicals found - KMSP-TV

WASECA PLOT: Federal agents confirm dangerous chemicals found

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WASECA, Minn. (KMSP) -

A few weeks ago, police in Waseca, Minn., announced they had foiled what they believed was a teenager's plot to kill his family and attack area schools. Now, agents say he could have done it.

According to federal officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the community was exposed to more risk than was originally believed because the chemicals the boy had already acquired would have let him do more damage than the bombs that went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

"From what he had available to him, he would have been able to construct a significant number of devices -- or one large device that would have been greater in force than what you had, say, in the Boston bombing," Scott Sweetow explained.

When 17-year-old John LaDue was arrested, police recovered a cache of guns and ammunition from his bedroom. That alone was enough firepower to take a lot of lives, but the contents of the storage locker illustrate the gravity of his alleged plan.

"Anyone who has an Internet connection can get access to information about how to put together some really dangerous mixtures," Sweetow said. "That's really what happened down in Waseca."

LaDue was arrested after two women noticed suspicious activity at his rented storage unit. Inside, investigators found all the chemicals he would have needed to make homemade bombs and accomplish the plan spelled out in an 180-page notebook.

MORE: Teen's notebook reveals plot to murder family, attack schools

ATF agents assisted the Waseca police by recovering:

- 10 pounds of red iron oxide
- 5 pounds of potassium perchlorate
- 10 pounds of aluminum powder

"You're talking about the ability to manufacture a substantial quantity of high explosives for less than a couple hundred dollars," Sweetow said.

Sold separately, the chemicals can be used for things other than bomb-making.

"But when you combine these different chemicals together, a lot of them are really well-known precursors to what we call homemade explosives," Sweetow said.

The ATF's special agent in charge would not comment on whether there is any evidence that LaDue had experimented with or successfully created explosive compounds; however, he said that as long as companies remain eager to sell such chemicals, the public could start seeing more incidents like this.

"Obviously, where we get concerned is when you see bulk quantities and some kind of indication the person's not interested in experimentation," Sweetow said.

In addition to the chemicals, investigators also found PVC pipes and caps, a pressure cooker and various types of shrapnel.

LaDue has been charged with attempted murder, possession of explosives and attempted criminal damage to property. Prosecutors are asking to have him certified for an adult trial.

MORE: LaDue makes first court appearance in Waseca plot

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