Asheville Airport bomb suspect pleads guilty

Michael Christopher Estes
Michael Christopher Estes (From: Asheville Police Department)

ASHEVILLE, NC (WSPA) – A man accused of leaving an improvised explosive device at Asheville Regional Airport has plead guilty to unlawful possession of explosive material at airport, according to US Attorney R. Andrew Murray

Michael Christopher Estes was originally indicted on charges of Attempted Malicious Use of Explosive Materials and Possession of Explosives at an Airport.

According to the indictment, Estes left an explosive device made with Ammonium Nitrate / fuel oil (AN/FO) at Asheville Regional Airport on October 6.

The criminal complaint written by an FBI agent says investigators found a mason jar containing ammonium nitrate, nails and a shotgun cartridge Friday at the Asheville airport. Authorities rendered the device safe after it was left near a terminal entrance.

According to plea documents, the words “FOR GOD & COUNTRY” were written on the strike strip of a matchbox attached to the device. Another message, “FOR ALL THE V/N VETS OUT THERE!!!,” was written on the tape attaching a portion of a clock to the device. The alarm on the clock was positioned to go off at 6:00, but it was not actually set.

The news release says Estes admitted in court that he purchased the material and constructed the explosive device he placed at the airport.

Court documents show that Estes told law enforcement that we were getting ready to “fight a war on U.S. soil,” and that terrorists were coming to the United States.

Estes told law enforcement that he believed that federal agencies were unprepared to fight the terrorists, according to the release.

Estes also told law enforcement that his intention was not to hurt the public but to devise a training scenario. He also said that he placed the device at the airport so it would be picked up by law enforcement, so that law enforcement would “now know how” to make a similar device, according to the release.

Prosecutors say Estes also admitted to staging a backpack in the woods across from the airport. Law enforcement located the backpack, which contained some of the material Estes used to construct the device.