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.

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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.

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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.

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

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