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    Alleged River Creek pipe bomber sent to grand jury

    Austin A. Callahan

    The case against the Leesburg man accused of setting off explosives at a local golf course will proceed to the grand jury.

    After a one hour preliminary hearing Oct. 22, Judge Frank Buttery Jr. proceeded the case against Austin A. Callahan, 20, to be held Nov. 19. Callahan is charged with creating/using a bomb or explosive, a class five felony, for setting off a pipe bomb Aug. 20 at the River Creek golf course.

    Senior Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Alejandra Amato called four witnesses to the stand during the hearing.

    Two of the witnesses were investigators with the Loudoun County Fire Marshal's office, Christopher Berry and Christopher Doyle.

    Berry, who began the initial investigation on the night of Aug. 20, took the stand first. Berry arrived on the scene at around 11:17 p.m., and located the device at Olympic Boulevard and Kings Mill Street on the golf course.

    The device was a 6 inch galvanized steel pipe with the end caps blown off.

    Defense attorney Todd Sanders inquired that if it was a pipe bomb, would the entire bomb, including the pipe, explode, not just the ends?

    “If it functions as designed, the pipe doesn't remain intact?” Sanders asked.

    Berry attributed this bomb's flaw to user error.

    “It failed,” Berry said.

    Doyle, the lead investigator for the case, reported to the scene the following day, on Aug. 21, where he was able to locate the end caps.

    During his testimony at the hearing, Doyle explained how they came to apprehend Callahan. The pipe still had a residual price tag sticker, which was traced back to Home Depot. Just one pipe matching the dimensions of the River Creek one had been purchased in the past 30 days, using a credit card in Callahan's mother's name. Looking at a video surveillance from the store, investigators were able to narrow it down to Callahan, rather than his siblings.

    On Aug. 24, investigators executed a search warrant on the Callahan's home.

    During a 20 to 40 minute interview with Doyle, Callahan admitted he constructed the device in his garage by placing the powder from fountain fireworks in the pipe, though he noted he did not tighten the end cap all the way.

    In addition, Callahan told investigators there was another device in his home, which was detonated outside the Callahan's home.

    “Our policy is to render it safe,” Doyle explained.

    The other two witnesses were Anne Flam, a River Creek resident and Cynthia Wallace, a forensic chemist.

    “Our entire two story brick house shook and we shook within,” said Flam, who lives near the 13th hole. “It felt like there had been an airplane crash.”

    It will be determined in November during a grand jury hearing whether there is enough evidence to indict Callahan.


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