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Ex-student arrested with weapons cache and explosives near Cornell campus

Ex-student arrested with weapons cache and explosives near Cornell campus

Maximilien R. Reynolds who suffers from schizoaffective bipolar disorder with paranoid features arrested by FBI after tip from suspicious Wal-Mart employee

This afternoon a campus-wide email was circulated by the administration of Cornell University alerting the campus to the arrest of a former student, Maximilien R. Reynolds ’19:

Dear Ithaca Campus Community,

On Thursday, March 15, FBI agents arrested Maximilien R. Reynolds, a former Cornell student, following the reported seizure by the Ithaca Police Department (IPD) earlier this month of a number of weapons at his residence in Collegetown. Please know that the Cornell University Police Department (CUPD) is working in cooperation with IPD and the FBI, and law enforcement does not believe that there is currently a threat to the campus or to Collegetown.

The arrest was made following a tip from a good Samaritan in the local community. This is a good reminder that we can all help to keep our community safe by immediately reporting suspicious activity. To learn more about ways to prepare for any emergency situation, please visit emergency.cornell.edu.

We are grateful to IPD and to the FBI for their work on this case, and we thank them and CUPD for all of their efforts – every day – to protect our community.

Joel M. Malina
Vice President for University Relations

Cornell Daily Sun reporter Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs has his usual excellent reporting on the story, FBI agents and local police found guns, bomb-making materials and tactical gear inside a former student’s studio apartment, 8K, in Collegetown Plaza.

FBI agents and local police seized an unassembled AR-15 rifle, bomb-like devices, a bulletproof vest, large quantities of ammunition, a homemade silencer, a gas mask and more from a former Cornell University student’s apartment last week, the authorities said.

Police arrested the former student, Maximilien R. Reynolds ’19, who is 20 years old, and federal prosecutor Richard Southwick charged him with several federal crimes, accusing him of possessing “essentially a bomb” and of paying someone to purchase a firearm for him from a vendor in Tompkins County….

“Collectively all of these items certainly suggest a specific recipe for large scale destruction,” Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler said….

His lawyer, Ray Schlather J.D. ’76 argued in federal court in Syracuse on Friday that Reynolds suffers from “a huge paranoia of the world beyond him” and is dedicated to “protecting himself from that world.”

Reynolds has been diagnosed with schizoaffective bipolar disorder with paranoid features, Schlather said. U.S. Magistrate Judge Therese Wiley Dancks ordered that he undergo evaluation to assess his competency to stand trial.

Reynolds, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, had short, dark brown hair and a slight beard in court on Friday afternoon. His mother, who left the room in tears moments after the arraignment began, reentered the room to blow him a kiss as he was taken away in handcuffs around 2 p.m….

Police initially detained Reynolds based on a New York law that allows authorities to detain people who appear mentally ill and pose a danger to themselves or others, a law enforcement official and the person briefed said. Reynolds stayed at a hospital’s psychiatric unit voluntarily, Southwick said in court, until he was taken into federal custody on Thursday.

Court records indicate the FBI obtained on March 15, 2018, sealed a arrest warrant and other investigative orders from the federal court in the Northern District of New York in Syracuse. A copy of the initial Sealing Order (pdf.) is embedded at the bottom of this post.

The United States of America has applied to the Court pursuant to NDNY Criminal Local Rule 13.1 for an order sealing the following: (a) one or more documents submitted to the Court at the same time as this sealing application, which document( s) request a Court order authorizing certain investigative activity or an arrest warrant; (b) the Court’s order authorizing such investigative activity or an arrest warrant; (c) this sealing application; and (d) the Court’s sealing order, which has the same caption.

The Criminal Complaint, also under seal was filed that same day and was unsealed today. A copy of the Criminal Complaint (pdf.) is embedded at the bottom of this post.

The Criminal Complaint listed three charges:

Possession of a Unregistered Destructive Device/Silencer
False Statement in Acquisition of a Firearm
False Statement in Required Firearm Record

The supporting Affidavit provides details on what happened, which started with a tip from a suspicious Wal-Mart employee:

7. …. Maximilien R. REYNOLDS had earlier purchased firearms ammunition, along with camping gear, drill bits, miscellaneous tools, hacksaw blades, knives, and some additional items that were deemed suspicious by an employee of the Wal-Mart store in Ithaca, New York, who contacted the IPD. The IPD and FBI were able to determine that the items in question were purchased at Wal-Mart by Maximilien R. REYNOLDS using a gift card…..

8. It was later learned that Maximilien R. REYNOLDS had previous contact with the Ithaca Police Department in June of2016 when he was detained under the Section 941 of the New York Mental Health Law.

Among the items found was a homemade silencer:

13. Maximilien R. REYNOLDS advised that the rifle was in a bag in the apartment, which was located and recovered, being a Savage MSR-15 Patrol rifle, caliber .223/5.56 mm, bearing serial number 03-005856. Also located was what appeared to be a homemade silencer for a firearm. This was shown to Maximilien R. REYNOLDS, who was asked if it was a silencer. REYNOLDS responded in the affirmative by nodding his head.

* * *

19. · I also observed the homemade silencer recovered from the apartment. It is constructed from a NAP A brand fuel filter body approximately 10 inches in length and 2 inches in diameter with machined metal ends affixed to it. Each metal end has a hole in the center of it, with one end hole appearing to be threaded. Your affiant knows from training and experience that a firearm silencer is a “firearm” under Title 26 United States Code Section 5845(a)(7) and that per Title 18 United States Code Section 921(a)(24), a firearms silencer means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm, including any combination of parts, designed, or redesigned and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a firearm silencer.

20. This item is alleged to be a silencer and, as such, is a firearm as defined under Title 26, United States Code, Section 5845 (a)(7) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 921(a)(24). As such, it is unlawful to possess this silencer unless it is listed in the National Firearms Registry and Transfer Record.

There also was bomb-making material:

15. On March 7, 2018, I responded to Ill Dryden Avenue, apartment 8K, Ithaca, NY and made contact with NYSP Bomb Technician Gardiner. Together, we made an initial assessment of the apartment. Due to the presence of numerous labeled containers of chemicals commonly used in the manufacture of homemade explosives (HME) and the presence of other unknown substances, it was decided to wait until further resources arrived in order to conduct a complete search of the apartment. After SABT Acquavella and NYSP Bomb Technician Smoulcey arrived, the apartment was searched. Several consumer fireworks items were located within a plastic bin in the apartment, including a fireworks “mortar” round that appears to have had shotgun shell pellets taped to the outside of the device to provide fragmentation. Based on my training and experience, your affiant observed that that this device is very similar to, and was likely made from, a consumer firework “mortar” round approximately 4 inches in length and approximately 1 3/4 inch in diameter that is designed to be propelled into the air from an explosive charge at the base of the round which is normally placed into a reloadable fireworks “mortar” launch tube. Upon reaching apex, the “mortar” round is designed to burst via a section of time fuse igniting an explosive charge within the round causing it to explode and scatter pyrotechnic stars or other effects contained within the round. The alleged destructive device clearly appears to have steel or lead shot similar to that used in shotgun shells affixed to the outside of the of the “mortar” round using black colored tape to hold it in place, as the outline of the small shot spheres is visible through the tape on the outside of the device. Evidence of opened shotgun shells was also observed within the apartment. Your affiant knows that firework items normally do not have items affixed to them which might cause injury to people nearby.

16. The explosive powder lift charge normally present in the bottom of the “mortar” round in question had been removed leaving the end of a section of time fuse within the “mortar” round exposed. By lighting the exposed time fuse, a brief delay would be expected prior to the deflagration of the explosive charge within the round causing it to explode and propel the attached shot outwards as fragmentation

17. Consumer fireworks do not normally have fragmentation, which is designed to inflict injury or death. Therefore, this item appears to be an explosive bomb and as such is a firearm and destructive device as defined under Title 26, United States Code, Section 5845 (f)(1) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 921(a)(4)(A). As such, it is unlawful to possess this destructive device unless it is listed in the National Firearms Registry and Transfer Record.

* * *

22. Also located were over 300 live rounds of firearm ammunition, much of which was contained in high capacity magazine clips that are compatible with the Savage MSR-15 Patrol rifle located in the apartment. Also located in the apartment were two sets of ballistic body armor, a gas mask, a metal or steel pipe with one endcap, and numerous labeled containers of chemicals consistent with pre-cursor chemicals used in the manufacture of homemade explosives. Also located were numerous ball barings of numerous sizes that could be used as fragmentation or shrapnel in an explosive device.

We will update as more becomes known.

——————–

In Re Maximilien Reynolds – Sealing Order by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

———————-

In Re Maximilien Reynolds – Criminal Complaint by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

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Comments

If this young man is so paranoid, then he should be under lock and key. We did a HUGE disservice to the public when we made it practically impossible to institutionalize all but the criminally insane. As this case makes clear, you do not have to be “criminally insane” to be a huge danger to the world around you.

My interest here is personal curiosity only. The PDF indicates… the silencer is illegal because it is not registered with the federal government, being homemade, whether or not it actually works, merely that it is intended to work? As for the two other charges, they have a blunt admission by a straw purchaser that he purchased the rifle for the defendant under false pretenses at the defendant’s direction and for $200 separate from the money to cover the cost of the rifle. …There was nothing about offering him immunity, rather, that he waived his rights to make this confession.

…So are they going to charge the straw purchaser for arming someone who may not even be fit to stand trial?

    Sanddog in reply to JBourque. | March 16, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    They’d better drop the hammer on the guy who bought the firearm for him. The guy knew it was illegal, heck the 4473 has multiple warnings about it and he did it anyway.

    The Packetman in reply to JBourque. | March 16, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    “merely that it is intended to work?”

    Welcome to the world of NFA weapons …

      Actually, that part didn’t surprise me at all. I had to look it up, but apparently the fact they view it as an NFA firearm, in the same category as an automatic fire machinegun, means it is illegal without approval of the ATF (…it grants approval, ever?) and paying a tax. I’d heard years ago that homemade firearms are generally legal. It would seem homemade NFA firearms are not – without the tax etc, per above…

        DaveGinOly in reply to JBourque. | March 16, 2018 at 11:31 pm

        “…it is illegal without approval of the ATF (…it grants approval, ever?)…”

        Yes, they do, all the time and quite regularly. ATF doesn’t play games like local law enforcement. If you’re clean and you pay for the tax stamp, they will issue the stamp and you can have your silencer (which is what its inventor, Hiram Maxim, called it, although today “suppressor” is favored by some).

        “I’d heard years ago that homemade firearms are generally legal. It would seem homemade NFA firearms are not – without the tax etc, per above…”

        Correct. You can build a semi-automatic AR-15 from an 80% receiver and that’s fine. But you can’t build a fully automatic firearm because it’s an NFA item that requires the stamp (and thorough background check that goes with it). (There are other niceties about full-auto weapons that I’m glossing over here, but you’re generally correct in your presumption.)

        tom_swift in reply to JBourque. | March 17, 2018 at 8:47 am

        As per the 1986 Firearms Owner’s Protection Act, no machine guns can be added to the BATF registry. Basically that means that the half million or so already registered are the only ones available on the market (legally, that is—I know noting about the illegal market, beyond the fact that it exists). But other NFA weapons can be added, after forms are filled out and fingerprints mailed in, the $200 is paid, and the applicant waits forever for it all to be processed.

        The most common items getting the NFA “tax stamp” nowadays are silencers and short-barreled rifles.

        I’d heard years ago that homemade firearms are generally legal. It would seem homemade NFA firearms are not – without the tax etc, per above…

        So far as the Feds are concerned, they are, and no additional licensing is needed … not even serial numbers (although they’re “recommended”), since serial numbers are something the manufacturer or importer is required to put on, and if there’s no manufacturer or importer, then there’s no requirement for a number.

        But there is an exception—machine guns. Since 1986, can’t make or import one of those, or even find it in a attic somewhere.

        There are also some strict, albeit arbitrary, requirements about exactly what constitutes “homemade”. But generally, if you can legally possess it, you can legally make it, if it’s not a machine gun.

The real moral of the story here is to not shop at the Ithaca Walmart.
Cornell PD seems upset that he dared to possess survival equipment and medical supplies, too.

LukeHandCool | March 16, 2018 at 7:31 pm

“… which started with a tip from a suspicious Wal-Mart employee.”

Make that person head of the FBI. Or Sheriff of Broward County at least.

    Bucky Barkingham in reply to LukeHandCool. | March 17, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Pleased that “See Something, Say Something” worked in this case.

      dunce1239 in reply to Bucky Barkingham. | March 17, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      Could it be that recent revelations prompted action under our new administration?? We can never know for certain but it sure seems likely.

    The Packetman in reply to LukeHandCool. | March 17, 2018 at 10:39 am

    “Make that person head of the FBI. Or Sheriff of Broward County at least.”

    Actually, I’m thinking … not.

    “Maximilien R. REYNOLDS had earlier purchased firearms ammunition, along with camping gear, drill bits, miscellaneous tools, hacksaw blades, knives, and some additional items that were deemed suspicious by an employee of the Wal-Mart store in Ithaca, New York, who contacted the IPD”

    I’d like to know what the ‘additional items’ were and what makes them suspicious … look all you want but there isn’t an aisle in Walmart for ‘Burglary Tools’ or ‘Suspicious items’.

The silencer is illegal because it is not registered to him, and in this case, also not registered at all. You can make them at home, but must have an approved tax-paid form-1 first. About 20 years ago there was a guy in Oregon who would set up at gun shows and display his collection of oil-can silencers. I believe his nickname was Stainless Steve. The title II crowd avoided him like the plague, but he was popular with the mall ninjas.

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/form/form-1-application-make-and-register-firearm-atf-form-53201/download

As a home machinist I have registered and made 5 of these, because knowledge and experience are good.

One can also buy them on a tax-paid form-4 from either an individual in your state or a dealer.

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/form/form-1-application-make-and-register-firearm-atf-form-53201/download

It is the only form of stamp collecting that I believe in.

Guy sounds like a nutter.

The silencer is illegal because it is not registered to him, and in this case, also not registered at all.

Last I’ve heard, it’s also not legal in NY state (except for law enforcement, federally licensed dealers, blah blah) even if it complies with the NFA 1934.

    Thomas Craven: Everything’s illegal in Massachusetts New York.

      tom_swift in reply to Neo. | March 17, 2018 at 9:24 am

      I think eight states have restrictions on silencers in addition to the federal laws. And another two restrict their use in hunting.

      These are areas of current litigation and legislative activity, so I don’t know the very latest.

per Title 18 United States Code Section 921(a)(24), a firearms silencer means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm

This is incorrect. This definition would include an indoor shooting range with any sound-deadening material on the walls (which is pretty much all of them).

To count as a NFA silencer/suppressor/whatever, the device has to be attached to the firearm. Ditto for shoulder stocks on “short-barreled” rifles.

ATF has, in the past, fantasized about regulating all parts which might be used to fabricate a silencer/suppressor/whatever, but as the proposed regulations would require that lawn mower mufflers be registered, they backed off a bit.

    I’m guessing sound-deadening material is not “a device” but rather “a structure”.

      tom_swift in reply to JBourque. | March 17, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Easily evaded. BATF reasoning would be that the Bureau doesn’t do “structures”, so if they’re interested, the sound-controlling stuff can’t be a structure; ergo, it’s a mechanism. Once Officer Friendly arrives at your door, the only important guess is BATF’s. It doesn’t have to be reasonable, and it doesn’t even have to be explicable in plain English (since the NFA ’34, GCA ’68, FOPA ’86, and BATF itself redefine so many perfectly good English words into intelligibility).

      Generally BATF is logical, even anal, about its own interpretations of Federal law. But it is hardly dedicated to being “reasonable”. One can deal with BAFT safely—I’ve done it for decades without ending up in legal hot water—but caution is in order.

      Another point of interest is that “any device” is not in the text of the Federal laws. In this case, “silencers” are attachments. If they’re not attached to the firearm (as in, screwed on or welded), they’re not in BATF’s purview. A builder could bolt a breech mechanism, barrel, and magazine to a workbench and attach a silencer; and BATF would have no interest, since a big clunky thing bolted to a bench isn’t a “firearm” even though it shoots bullets. Ditto for a firearm shooting through a silencer which isn’t attached to it in some way.

Of course extensive media coverage of the Florida shooting had nothing to do with this, no?

    DaveGinOly in reply to Anchovy. | March 16, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Neither does Mr. Reynolds’ mental state. We all know that most mass shooters/killers are perfectly well-adjusted, law-abiding citizens right up until the time they snap. /sarc off

Oversoul Of Dusk | March 17, 2018 at 10:27 am

“Your affiant knows from training and experience” that “high capacity magazine clips” is a scary phrase that will excite the media-leftist complex.

Anyway, I’m glad the fellow is in custody.

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