The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Manhunt under way for suspect in home explosions in Fredericksburg, Stafford
Police: Pipe-bomb suspect is ‘armed and extremely dangerous’
Police have identified the man suspected in three recent home explosions as Laurence Alan Stewart II, 25, of Stafford County.
Authorities named the suspect at a press conference this afternoon at the Stafford Sheriff’s Office. A manhunt involving several law enforcement agencies is under way. Stewart is considered armed and dangerous.
Video from a Stafford County Sheriff’s Dept. press conference, Wednesday Oct 31, 2012.
Police announced yesterday that they were investigating three separate incidents early Tuesday in which homemade explosive devices were thrown or placed in or near area residences.
“Those bombs were manufactured to kill and they were absolutely capable of doing that,” Richard Marianos, lead investigator with the ATF.
The first occurred about 4 a.m. in Fredericksburg, while the next two took place in Stafford County. No one was injured in the explosions, but there was property damage at all three residences, police said.
Sources said Stewart, who was alreadywanted on unrelated charges in Stafford, was apparently targeting two Stafford deputies and an ex-girlfriend who lives in the county.
Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said city police and firefighters responded to a reported explosion inside a home in the 3100 block of Normandy Avenue about 4 a.m. A woman who was there alone when the device went off got out of the home safely, along with her dog.
A Virginia State Police bomb dog searched the residence and found no additional devices. Bledsoe said the explosion blew a hole in the ceiling, significantly damaged three rooms and blew out many windows in the house.
At 4:33 a.m., Stafford deputies responded to a home in Kings Grant subdivision for what was initially reported as a shot fired into a residence. Stafford Sheriff’s Major David Decatur said police later learned that a homemade incendiary device was thrown into the residence, breaking a window.
The home had minor damage, Decatur said, but none of the residents was hurt.
About an hour and 20 minutes later, at 5:53 a.m., deputies went to Country Ridge subdivision for an explosion outside a residence.
Someone had thrown or placed the device at the back of the home, Decatur said, causing minor property damage.
In addition to Stafford and Fredericksburg police, the Stafford Fire Marshal’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and state police are among those working on the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call city police at 373-3122 or the Sheriff’s Office at 658-4400.
Stewart is charged in Stafford County with 1 count of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, 1 count of attempted capital murder during the commission of an act of terror, 2 counts of manufacture or possession of a weapon of terror and 2 counts of durn or destroy by use of explosives at a dwelling.
The City of Fredericksburg is also charging Stewart with 1 count of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, 1 count of missile into a occupied dwelling and 1 count arson of an occupied dwelling.
Court records in Pennsylvania show that Stewart, then a resident of Norwood, Pa., was found guilty of harassment in June, 2009.
On Oct. 9, the Stafford Sheriff’s Office issued this release as they asked for the public’s help locating Laurence:
Stafford, Va. The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s assistance in helping to locate Laurence Alan Stewart II, age 25, of Stafford County. Stewart is wanted out of Stafford County for Indecent Exposure, Obscene Sexual Display and Violation of a Protective Order.
On two separate occasions, one in July of 2012 and the second incident in August of 2012, Laurence Stewart was reported to have exposed himself to two different individuals while sitting in his car at the Stafford Marketplace in North Stafford. Detective Greg Bender has investigated both incidents and his investigation has resulted in the warrants for Stewart’s arrest. Stewart was last seen in the area of North Stafford County in mid August.
The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is asking assistance in locating Laurence Alan Stewart II. Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Laurence Stewart is requested to call the Sheriff’s Office at 540-658-4400, Crime Solvers at 540-659-2020 or by texting STAFFORD and your tip to CRIMES (274637).
In Addition, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office is asking that if anyone has had an encounter, such as the one described in the release, with Laurence Stewart they are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office as well.