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Police on Long Island find arsenal, explosives inside home, evacuate 20 houses as precaution
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) ' A thriving crop of marijuana plants, an arsenal of guns, pipe bombs, grenades and enough explosives to potentially level an entire block were uncovered by officers investigating a report of a silent alarm, officials on Long Island announced Wednesday.
Marc Ringel, 53, was arrested on drug, weapons and other charges after police made the discovery Tuesday at the house he shares with his parents in Woodmere, a New York City suburb, Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said.
He was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, according to the district attorney's office. It was not immediately clear if Ringel had an attorney.
Approximately 20 houses surrounding Ringel's were evacuated as police scoured the home for evidence. Local police were being assisted by the FBI, and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives remained at the scene on Wednesday looking for evidence.
Skrynecki said officers were particularly concerned that the home, which he described as a "significant growhouse" for marijuana, may have been booby-trapped.
He said approximately 50 pounds of ingredients for making explosives ' including ammonium nitrate, fuel oil, peroxide, sodium nitrate and citric acid ' were found in the home. Police also found approximately 100 handguns, 20 long rifles, 15 pipe bombs and 15 hand grenades in various locations around the home, he said.
"We view him as a tremendous threat to society," Skrynecki said.
He said a preliminary investigation does not reveal that Ringel has any known ties to terrorist or extremist groups, and that Ringel's intentions were unknown. Skrynecki said detectives were endeavoring to "find out where his head is at."
Ringel was not licensed to own handguns in Nassau County, the police chief said.
The Woodmere home is owned by Ringel's elderly parents, who spend the winter in Florida, Skrynecki said. He said it was not immediately clear if the parents were aware of their son's activities.
Police were called to the home at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, responding to a call of an alarm. They found Ringel in his driveway, working on a van. He had no identification, so officers followed him toward the front door where he presumably was going to retrieve ID. When he opened the door, the officers were overcome by the pungent smell of the marijuana plants, Skrynecki said. They also reported seeing a weapon on the floor and then took Ringel into custody.
Officers ordered an evacuation of the neighborhood for several hours and obtained a search warrant, which they used to find the cache of weapons, Skrynecki said. Police also found a pit dug in the backyard of the home, which the chief theorized could have been used for experimenting with the explosives.
Ringel was believed to be unemployed. Police said he lived in the western U.S. for a period of time. He was divorced and had moved back to Long Island about three years ago. He had one minor arrest for criminal contempt in an out-of-state domestic incident, Skyrnecki said, although he did not provide details.