AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The legal team of Erfan Salmanzadeh, an Amarillo man who was indicted in August 2021 after an explosion in the 3600 block of Lenwood Drive, has entered a guilty plea on one count of “Use and Attempted Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” according to documents filed Monday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, Salmanzadeh was indicted after a July 2021 incident where first responders were called to a home in the 3600 block of Lenwood Drive after a reported explosion. This event led to 14 homes in the area being evacuated. Officials allegedly found numerous explosive materials, along with an improvised explosive device, which officials linked to Salmanzadeh.
The factual resume, which, along with the plea agreement, was filed on Monday, outlined the alleged details from July 26, when the explosion occurred in the 3600 block of Lenwood Drive. The documents state that around 3:56 p.m., a neighbor reported hearing “a loud explosion,” at a house, noting that a similar incident occurred a few weeks earlier but did not report it.
When Amarillo Police Department officers and Amarillo Fire Department officials arrived at the scene, officials in the documents said that officers “observed a large crater in the backyard” of the home Salmanzadeh shared with his father. Salmanzadeh allegedly said at the time that “he was popping small firecrackers in his backyard and he was hitting the fireworks with a hammer.”
As officers walked through the residence, the documents state that Salmanzadeh allegedly admitted to blowing up a gaming console in the backyard, using the explosive “triacetone triperoxide” that he had made. Officials also said that Salmanzadeh allegedly admitted he flushed more of the “triacetone triperoxide” down a toilet and placed a suicide vest and a nail bomb in a dumpster in the alley behind his house.
On an additional search of the residence, officials said in the documents that first responders allegedly found the destroyed gaming console and two white PVC pipes that technicians said: “appeared to have an explosive filler.” Officials from the FBI, along with the Amarillo Police Department’s bomb squad then conducted a “controlled demolition” of the pipes, one of which tested positive for “triacetone triperoxide” and the other of which tested positive for the “high explosive nitroglycerin.”
Subsequent checks with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record allegedly revealed that Salmanzadeh was not authorized to possess a destructive device and was not registered in the record.
In a seizure of electronic devices, officials said in the documents that Salmanzadeh’s digital devices “revealed multiple videos that referenced Tascosa High School.”
“Specifically, law enforcement located a video Salmanzadeh made on July 22, 2021,” the documents said. “In this video, Salmanzadeh was speaking in a mixture of English and Farsi in his backyard and stating that he was going to blow up Tascosa High School. He said in Farsi, ‘We are going to blast the school… we are going to hit Tascosa… look at these.’ Salmanzadeh then filmed the nail bomb filled with shrapnel, the suicide vest filled with pipes labeled as explosives, a suitcase filled with containers labeled as explosives and the backpack filled with bottles labeled as explosives.”
In other videos, officers said that other videos showed Salmanzadeh conducting test explosions, with officials also locating notes and formulas related to making explosives. Officials also said in the documents that Salmanzadeh bought a plane ticket to travel to California on July 28, 2021, “to avoid detection by law enforcement after any bombing or attack.”
According to the plea agreement, the maximum penalties Amarillo Federal Court officials can impose include:
- Imprisonment for life;
- A fine not to exceed $250,000, or twice any pecuniary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim(s);
- A term of supervised release of up to life, which may be mandatory under the law and will follow any term of imprisonment;
- Restitutions to victims or to the community, which is mandatory under the law, and which the defendant agrees may include restitution arising from all relevant conduct, not limited to that arising from the offense of conviction alone;
- Forfeiture of property, including the forfeiture of three destructive devices and all components, accessories and other materials used to make those devices.
According to the plea agreement, however, officials said that the parties agree that the appropriate sentence in prison “should not exceed 180 months and a term of supervised release of life.”
Salmanzadeh’s re-arraignment hearing was hosted Wednesday in Amarillo Federal Court. No date has been yet filed regarding Salmanzadeh’s sentencing in Amarillo Federal Court.
(Information from MyHighPlains.com)