The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Developing … Bombing suspect caught in Montana
UPDATE: The Stafford Sheriff’s Office says Laurence Alan Stewart II has been arrested in Montana.
“Preliminary information received from Montana is that a pursuit ensued which resulted in a number of pipe bombs being thrown at pursuing law enforcement officers. Stewart’s vehicle was disabled by law enforcement officers. Stewart left his car and ran on foot, armed with a handgun.”
No shots were fired, police say.
According to an online report from KRTV in Montana, the pursuit included the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Montana Highway Patrol, U.S. marshals as well as a helicopter from the Department of Homeland Security.
A press conference is scheduled for 6 p.m.
BY KEITH EPPS
Police have launched an all-out manhunt for a man suspected of trying to kill two law enforcement officers and a former girlfriend.
Laurence Alan Stewart II, 25, of no fixed address is wanted in connection with three bombings that occurred early Tuesday in Stafford County and Fredericksburg, police said.
Video from a Stafford County Sheriff’s Dept. press conference, Wednesday Oct 31, 2012.
One of the homemade bombs exploded in a city residence where a Stafford deputy used to live. No one was injured but significant damage was done to the house.
The other explosions took place at the homes of a Stafford detective and Stewart’s former girlfriend, police said.
No one was injured, but police said the bombs posed deadly threats.
“These bombs were manufactured to kill and were absolutely capable of doing just that,” federal Special Agent Richard Marianos said Wednesday at a joint press conference at the Stafford sheriff’s office.
Authorities on Wednesday announced numerous charges against Stewart, who was still at large at press time.
In Stafford, he is charged with attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, attempted capital murder during an act of terror, two counts of manufacturing a weapon of terror and two counts of burn or destroy by use of explosives at a dwelling.
He is also charged in Fredericksburg with attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, throwing a missile into an occupied dwelling and arson.
Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett said his employees and the former girlfriend were clearly the targets of the suspect’s wrath.
He said both the detective and the deputy were involved in an arrest of Stewart earlier this year that involved an assault against the former girlfriend.
“Rest assured that every investigative and law enforcement technique is being utilized to locate and arrest Laurence Stewart,” Jett said. “The man has already attempted to murder two law enforcement officers and is a serious danger to society.”
The Fredericksburg incident occurred about 4 a.m. in the 3100 block of Normandy Avenue.
A woman who was alone in the residence was able to get out safely with her pet after a pipe bomb was thrown into the home.
Three rooms were damaged, windows were shattered and a hole was blown in the roof, police said.
The Stafford incidents occurred at 4:33 a.m. in Kings Grant subdivision in the western end of the county, and at 5:33 a.m. in the Country Ridge subdivision near Garrisonville.
Pipe bombs were thrown at and exploded at the rear of both residences. Damage was done to the homes, but none of the multiple residents inside was injured.
Jett said police have considerable evidence tying Stewart to the crimes, but he declined to be more specific.
Police believe he is still armed and carrying explosives and “there’s no reason to believe he will stop using them,” Jett said.
According to Jett, Stewart grew up in the Philadelphia area, went to college at Temple University and attended law school in North Carolina.
It was at law school that he met the now former girlfriend, who is from Stafford, and eventually he came here to live with her.
His first contact with the Stafford Sheriff’s Office came on June 26, when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge.
He was released on bond and never appeared in court for that charge, police said.
He was later charged with violating a protective order involving the woman on Aug. 21.
He is also facing two unrelated charges of indecent exposure and obscene sexual display. The charges involve incidents on July 23 and Aug. 16 at Stafford Marketplace in North Stafford.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a release and a picture of Stewart earlier this month seeking help in finding Stewart for the misdemeanor offenses. He was never located.
The search is wider and much more intense now. Marianos said 50 Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents are working in Virginia, and others are searching Pennsylvania, Ohio and any other state where Stewart is known to have relatives and associates.
Court records show that Stewart was a resident of Norwood, Pa., when he was found guilty of harassment in June 2009.
Jett said local police are also following up on every lead. “No one is going to stop until this man is in custody.”
The Stafford and city fire marshals’ offices and Virginia State Police are also assisting in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 540/658-4400, Crime Solvers at 540/659-2020 or Fredericksburg police at 540/373-3122.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404