Man who built and gift-wrapped homemade bomb in attempt to kill romantic rival pleads guilty

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(NEW YORK) — A man who built a homemade bomb before gift-wrapping it and driving it seven hours to deliver it to his romantic rival and gravely injuring him in an attempt to kill him has pleaded guilty to federal charges, authorities have announced.

The incident began in Oct. 2020 when Clayton Alexander McCoy, a 32-year-old man from Chesterfield Ohio, expressed romantic feelings for a woman he knew for several years through a live action role-playing game and social club. The woman responded by telling him she did not share the same feelings about him and was in a relationship with somebody else who McCoy also reportedly knew from the same club, the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the District of Maryland said in a press release.

“McCoy devised a plan to build and deliver a bomb to [the man’s] house with the intent to kill [him] in order to remove him as a romantic rival,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

According to his guilty plea, McCoy subsequently launched into an elaborate plan to evade authorities while he made the homemade bomb.

“McCoy traveled to multiple stores and purchased a variety of substances to make explosive powder, as well as other components to manufacture the bomb,” authorities said. “To avoid detection by law enforcement, McCoy purchased single items from multiple stores and paid for the materials in cash. McCoy made shrapnel for the inside of the bomb by using an angle grinder saw to cut scrap metal into small, triangular pieces. McCoy inserted the homemade shrapnel and bb’s, into the metal pipe, to increase the deadliness of the pipe bomb when it exploded.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that McCoy then placed the homemade bomb into a white gift box with red ribbon around it before placing it into a larger cardboard box with a shipping label that had no return address.

On Oct. 30, 2020, McCoy made the approximately seven-hour drive from his home to the residence of his romantic interest’s boyfriend in Carroll County, Maryland, to deliver the package.

“McCoy placed the bomb on [his intended victim’s] front porch just prior to 8:30 a.m., where [the man’s] grandfather saw the package and brought the package inside the home. [The target’s] grandfather put the package on the kitchen counter, where it remained until [his] return. At approximately 5:30 p.m., [the man] returned home and saw the cardboard box that was addressed to him,” authorities said.

The unnamed victim texted his girlfriend to ask if she had bought him a present before opening it but as the man opened the gift box, it detonated.

“[He] heard a whistling or hissing sound followed by an explosion,” said the U.S Attorney’s Office. “The victim was struck in the front of his body by shrapnel and sustained injuries to his chest, legs, and front of his body. He was transported to the hospital where he was treated for injuries caused by the shrapnel and explosion.”

The man’s injuries were so severe that he spent almost three weeks recovering in hospital, had to use a walker and underwent multiple surgeries to remove shrapnel from his body and his hand. Authorities said the shrapnel from that explosion almost two years ago remain in his body to this day.

Following an investigation, federal investigators executed a search warrant on McCoy’s residence in Chesterfield, Ohio, on March 10, 2021 and were able to seize several items that McCoy had allegedly use to build the homemade bomb.

After initially denying anything to do with the attack, law enforcement showed him maps of his movements on Oct. 30, 2020 that showed him traveling the seven hours between his home and the victim’s home. McCoy subsequently admitted that he both made the bomb and delivered it to the victim, authorities said.

McCoy pleaded guilty on Wednesday to “transporting explosives with intent to injure and to possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device, in connection with an explosion at a home in Carroll County, Maryland,” according to the U.S Attorney’s Office in Maryland.

McCoy’s sentencing has not yet been scheduled but he now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for transporting explosives with intent to injure and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm or explosive device.

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