By JOSH NEWTON
Local and federal authorities seized explosive materials at homes in Tahlequah and Stilwell Friday and arrested a convicted felon they believe manufactured at least one bomb.
Police were called to a Tahlequah hospital at around 3:30 a.m. Friday when Jeremy Ramirez, 27, was treated for “severe wounds” from an apparent explosion. Medical personnel reported Ramirez had damage to his hand and chest, with shrapnel injuries “all over his body.”
Witnesses told police Ramirez had attached a blasting cap to a cell phone, and it exploded in Ramirez’s hand. Authorities said the blast also injured a second person.
Tahlequah police and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Bomb Squad gathered at the scene of the explosion – just a few blocks away from the Cherokee County Courthouse – and spoke to a second witness Friday morning.
That person told investigators Ramirez had other explosive devices at the residence. Agents later obtained a search warrant and discovered more blasting caps in a backpack reportedly belonging to Ramirez.
“He made a bomb; we just don’t know what his intent was,” one investigator said. “Federal charges are expected, but for now, he’s being booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center.”
Ramirez was officially taken into custody at about 6:45 a.m., according to a probable cause affidavit. He was later interviewed by agents at the Tahlequah Police Department. When he was led out to be transported to jail, Ramirez’s left hand was bandaged, and his chest appeared to be riddled with shrapnel injuries.
Authorities said Ramirez was “very evasive with answers as to what happened,” and placed the blame on others. Information gathered during the investigation led federal authorities to a home in Stilwell, described as a residence of Ramirez’s family, where more explosives were recovered.
All explosive devices discovered Friday were confiscated by the OHP bomb squad, according to authorities.
Records from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections show Ramirez has previously spent time in prison for drug and firearms cases out of Adair and Tulsa counties.
Records indicate he was discharged from state custody last September.