ATF

Sample Block


Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

September 28, 2010

Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney

Contacts: Manny Tarango, Public Affairs
(602) 514-7456
(602) 799-8322 (cell)

Turney Gets Maximum Sentence for Bomb Possession

Investigation Uncovers Plot to Inflict Massive Casualties in Arizona

PHOENIX — Michael Roy Turney, 62, of Phoenix, Ariz., was sentenced here by U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton to the statutory maximum sentence of ten years in federal prison. Turney pleaded guilty to Unlawful Possession of Unregistered Destructive Devices.

On December 11, 2008, the Phoenix Police Department executed a search warrant of Turney’s residence where they discovered numerous explosive devices. Based on the size and quantity of the explosives, 21 homes in the neighborhood were evacuated.

The cache of dangerous weapons found in Turney’s house were not for decoration-they put hundreds of Arizonans at risk, said Dennis Burke, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Turney was living in a world of delusion, was armed to the max with live bombs and ammunition and had formulated a plan to harm Arizonans. I commend the prosecutors and investigators for removing this dangerous individual from our community.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Phoenix Bomb Squad proceeded to seize 29 functional explosive devices, including three incendiary devices and 26 pipe bombs. The bombs were fully assembled with fuses and contained gun powder and steel shot for additional fragmentation. One pipe bomb, which measured approximately two feet long and six inches in diameter, was packed with gun powder and roofing nails. According to an ATF agent, this was one of the largest pipe bomb caches seized in Arizona and that the additional fragmentation was consistent with someone intending to increase the lethality of the explosive devices and cause death or serious physical injuries to his intended victims.

Police also found 15 weapons including handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles, along with a substantial amount of ammunition. This included a semi-automatic rifle with a bi-pod and a double barrel magazine which contained 97 rounds of ammunition. The police also found two illegal silencers and a ballistic vest. A series of hand-written notes were found in the house which appeared to be an operational plan that included the use of a van to complete an attack on the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ union hall. According to documents recovered at Turney’s residence, he intended to ignite and drive a van into the fenced property of IBEW 640 headquarters and shoot 100 rounds at the door and at anyone moving.

In the rear of the home, the police located a van which contained three propane tanks containing fuel. Inside the van were 5-gallon gasoline canisters containing gasoline and other flammable liquids. A large brick was also found next to the gas pedal, which could have been used by Turney to cause the van to travel onto the union property, enabling him to fire rounds at the union door and at anyone moving.

If the van were ignited, the hazardous materials inside the van were extremely flammable and the additional presence of HTH (calcium hypochlorite), ammonia, and bleach would likely have resulted in the generation of gases which would have been toxic and poisonous for persons within the immediate surrounding atmosphere, according to the FBI Laboratory, Hazardous Materials Response Unit.

Turney drafted numerous letters addressed to family members, the news media and others. The letters were stamped and addressed and many contained flash drives with writings from Turney. In the letters addressed to the news media, Turney included a signed statement wherein he stated that Inside this envelope you will find my last writings that may give some insight how I got to this point in life that my death, vengeance and mass murder …

The district court judge stated she was appalled by the danger the defendant posed to the community, and stated that with so many explosive devices in his house, that defendant had turned his house into a bomb. Citing in part to the need to protect the community, the district court judge issued the maximum sentence provided by law.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The prosecution is being handled by David A. Pimsner and Michael T. Morrissey, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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Case Number
CR-08-1493-PHX-SRB
Release Number
2010-214(Turney)