Police stumbled upon a bomb-making factory Sunday in the home of a Columbia professor who specializes in the spread of infectious disease and are now investigating whether he and his roommate have any connection to terror.
One of the pipe bombs was described as being inserted into a Nerf football. Investigators with the NYPD and FBI were questioning Ivaylo Ivanov, a native of Bulgaria, to determine whether he has any terrorism or Russian Mafia connections, a source told New York’s Daily News.
An arsenal of weapons and explosive devices was found in the Brooklyn Heights apartment of a Columbia University professor yesterday morning after the professor’s roommate accidentally shot himself, police said.
Police said they removed seven homemade pipe bombs, a 9 mm handgun, a rifle, a crossbow and arrows, a machete, ammunition, gun silencers, and several bulletproof vests from a small one-bedroom apartment at 58 Remsen St. that neighbors say is owned by Michael Clatts, an AIDS researcher at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the National Development and Research Institutes.
The arsenal was discovered after a man who also lived in the one-bedroom attic apartment, identified by sources as Ivaylo Ivanov, 31, shot himself in the hand.
After telling police officers on patrol on Montague Terrace that someone had shot him at around 1 a.m. on Sunday, he was taken to Long Island College Hospital, where he later admitted to police that he had shot himself.
A downstairs neighbor, Penny Kaufman, said she escorted police to the fourth floor apartment at around 3:30 a.m. yesterday to help them subdue the two men’s dog. Through the door of the apartment, Ms. Kaufman, a legal secretary, said she saw a handgun and several bullets lying on a desk chair near the door. She also saw blood smeared on a wall near the light switch and towels balled up in the sinks and bathtub.
“The apartment was in total disarray,” she said.
UPDATE: NY Daily News
Police stumbled upon a bomb-making factory Sunday in the home of a Columbia professor who specializes in the spread of infectious disease – and are investigating whether he and his roommate have terror ties.
Cops evacuated the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood around the Remsen St. home of Michael Clatts, a medical anthropologist, after finding seven pipe bombs fitted with fuses in his flat, police sources said.
The frightening cache was discovered almost by accident – Ivaylo Ivanov, the man living with Clatts, accidentally shot off the tip of his left index finger and sought police help in the street about 1:15 a.m.
When investigators went to the 37-year-old Ivanov’s apartment, they found the bombs, already capped on both ends and filled with powder. One of the pipe bombs was inserted into a Nerf football, cops said.
A 9-mm. handgun, two ammunition magazines, a 12-gauge shotgun, silencers, a bulletproof vest, a crossbow and bomb-making equipment, including a drill and threading machine that could be used to make pipe bombs, were also recovered, cops said.
Investigators with the NYPD-FBI were questioning Ivanov, a native of Bulgaria, to determine whether he had any terrorism or Russian Mafia connections, a source told the Daily News.
“Russian Mafia aren’t fazed by getting a fingertip shot off – and they certainly don’t go to the cops for help,” the source said.
Neither man so far has popped up on any foreign criminal watch list or is a known member of an organized crime ring, sources said.
Sunday night, police were seeking additional search warrants, possibly for computers, other electronic devices and papers and books.
Ivanov was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful wearing of a body vest and reporting a false incident, cops said. He was expected to be arraigned this morning.
UPDATE – Monday 01/21/08
Investigators tried to determine Monday whether a man with a cache of pipe bombs and other weapons at his apartment was targeting synagogues and homes he had defaced in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a ranking police official said Monday.
Officers went to Ivan Ivanov’s apartment after he reported being shot on Sunday evening, police said. Investigators, who said the wound to his finger was self-inflicted, discovered what appeared to be a homemade bomb and several other devices and weapons.
A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing, said Ivanov told police he planned to use the explosives on a fishing trip, detonating the devices underwater to bring the fish to the surface.
Investigators seized his computer and were searching the files, the official said.
Ivanov had been suspected of spray-painting anti-Semitic graffiti in September on three houses, two cars and the staircases of two synagogues in his neighborhood but had not been charged, the official said.
After the weapons were discovered, he made statements implicating himself in the graffiti case and was arrested on hate crime charges, the official said.