New York: A Florida woman obsessed with the Columbine High School massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing was arrested after her parents discovered two dozen pipe bombs in her bedroom, authorities said on Friday.
The woman, Michelle Kolts, 27, was charged with 24 counts of making a destructive device with intent to harm, Chad Chronister, the sheriff of Hillsborough County, said at a news conference.
Kolts had been on the radar of authorities for more than a year, Chronister said.
A printing company had contacted his department in 2018 because Kolts had ordered “several” manifestos and “anarchist instructions,” the sheriff said, adding, “She became consumed with the Columbine and Oklahoma killings.”
In 1995, a homemade bomb planted outside a federal office building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people. The 1999 Columbine shooting, in which two gunmen killed 13 and wounded 21 in Littleton, Colorado, has “infatuated” some young people and prompted copycat shootings across the country.
“While checking Michelle’s bedroom, her parents found what appeared to be a significant amount of pipe bombs, other bomb-making materials and numerous weapons,” Chronister said. Her parents, who were in the military, called authorities Thursday, he said.
When police arrived, they evacuated the home, in Wimauma, Florida, about 30 miles south of Tampa, and called the bomb squad.
Police discovered 24 pipe bombs, smokeless pistol powder, fuse material, 23 different knives, two hatchets, two BB-pellet-type rifles, six BB-pellet-type handguns and dozens of books and DVDs about murder, mass killing, domestic terrorism and bomb making, Chronister said.
“The amount of highly destructive materials we found in this home were astonishing,” he said, adding, “If used, these bombs could have caused catastrophic damage and harm to hundreds, even thousands of people.”
Police found Kolts at her job, he said. Arrest records listed her occupation as labourer, but no additional details were available. Kolts admitted to detectives that she made the devices and had planned to use them, though it was unclear how, the sheriff said.
Kolts was being held with bail set at $180,000. Records showed no lawyer listed for her and attempts to reach her parents Saturday were unsuccessful.
“Who knows the amount of harm that could have been done, or how many lives could have been lost, had these parents not found the courage to call the sheriff’s office and seek help,” Chronister said.