- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Investigators found drawings of a pipe bomb, Molotov cocktails, a homemade gun and other incendiary devices at the home of the man they suspect was the ringleader of last month’s fire at an upscale housing development in Charles County, Md., according to federal court records.

Patrick Walsh told investigators he sold the drug Ecstasy and bought two handguns from a friend in October, according to prosecutors’ statement in federal court filing. The records were filed last week at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt in opposition to Mr. Walsh’s motion that he be released on home detention.

Prosecutors said Mr. Walsh had a “fascination with fire.” They also said he planned the Dec. 6 fires at the Hunters Brooke development in Indian Head and recruited the five other men charged with the crime. He is believed to be the head of “the Family,” a tight-knit group of men in their early 20s who had a similar interest in street racing.

Authorities have ascribed several motives for the fires, including revenge and a desire to gain notoriety for “the Family.” The plotters called the fires “Operation Payback,” authorities said.

Under questioning, Mr. Walsh told investigators “Operation Payback” was his idea and that it was related to “blowing up a vehicle.” He said he was at a Wendy’s restaurant parking lot in Waldorf last summer when two friends poured acetone on the pavement and lit it on fire. The friends included Michael Gilbert, also charged in the Hunters Brooke fires.

The drawings, copies of which were included in the filings, are crude sketches made in a spiral notebook. They include a “bulb bomb” made from a container that appears to be a light bulb and an “aerosol bomb/fire starter.”

For the Molotov cocktail, the drawing includes proportions of gasoline and motor oil to be mixed in a glass jar with a piece of cloth as a wick.

On another page is a drawing of a homemade “1 use shotgun,” composed of a steel pipe, gunpowder and a shotgun shell.

Investigators said they found a copy of the “Anarchist’s Cookbook” that had been downloaded from the Internet. The 1970s text includes instructions on how to make explosives such as thermite bombs, letter bombs and Molotov cocktails.

The filings also state that Mr. Walsh once worked as a pyrotechnician at a Six Flags amusement park.

Prosecutors have said the fires were started by pouring an accelerant on the floors of the homes, most of which were under construction, and lighting them on fire. They have not said that any of the devices found in the notebook were used in the crime.

Mr. Walsh’s attorney, William Purpura, said Mr. Walsh made the drawings four years ago when he was in 10th grade. The court records say the drawings were recent.

“He obviously at that point had a limited interest in these types of sketches,” Mr. Purpura said.

Mr. Purpura said he plans to argue at a hearing tomorrow that Mr. Walsh was not the instigator of the fires. He said search warrant affidavits show that Aaron Speed and Jeremy Parady each accused the other of plotting the arsons but neither mentioned Mr. Walsh.

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