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Yahnke charged in bomb case

By Staff | Jul 19, 2008

John Yahnke

An 18-year-old Blue Earth man arrested Monday, July 14, apparently told others at Crescent Apartments he was making bombs in his apartment.

On Wednesday, John Andrew Yahnke appeared in Martin County District Court and was charged with felony explosives possession with the intent to make a bomb.

According to a complaint filed in court, a 15-year-old female and a couple of friends saw numerous fireworks in the kitchen and bedroom of Yahnke’s apartment when they visited on July 9.

Yahnke told the teens all the fireworks were illegal and he was making bombs, says the complaint.

During the hearing, Faribault County Attorney Brian Roverud asked Judge Robert Walker to set Yahnke’s bail at $10,000 and impose other conditions.

“No possession of any explosives devices or components and fireworks. And, no contact with the individual identified in the complaint,” says Roverud.

Yahnke’s attorney, public defender Bill Grogin, told Walker his client should be released on his personal recognizance.

“I believe this matter has been overblown. I suggest some of the material recovered relates to a previous incident that the police failed to seize,” Grogin says. “I don’t believe Mr. Yahnke knew of their existence.”

Walker set Yahnke’s bail at $10,000 and told him not to have any mood-altering chemicals, not leave the state, and notify his attorney and Faribault County Court Administrator’s Office of any changes in his address.

When authorities executed a search warrant on Monday at 220 E. Seventh St., in Blue Earth, they found a box containing items that appeared could be used to manufacture an explosive.

Police Chief Dean Vereide says law enforcement officials arrived at the apartment complex at 4:50 p.m. and remained there for six hours. The Bloomington Police Bomb Squad and the Chemical Assessment Team in Mankato were called to the scene. Also assisting were Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents.

Vereide says after consulting with members of the bomb squad and C.A.T., he made a decision not to evacuate the building.

“We were pretty confident the chemicals were not dangerous because of the way they were packaged,” says Vereide. “We knocked on all the apartment doors and let residents decide if they wanted to stay or leave.”

Yahnke was arrested during the search of his third-floor residence, says the police chief.

Vereide says officials acted on a tip from a citizen. He says the public plays a vital role in officers doing their jobs.

“I can’t express this enough, ‘The citizens are our eyes and ears.’ We don’t get anything done without their help. We are very dependent on them,” says Vereide.

A press release from the Blue Earth Police Department says two plastic bags labeled as ammonium nitrate and one bag labeled sodium nitrate were confiscated. Other items seized included five Black Cat Blooming Flowers, a Jumbo Crackeling Ball and 75 miscellaneous legal fireworks.

The chemicals were tested and determined to be what was labeled. According to authorities, they were stable and not an immediate threat.

The Chemical Assessment Team said the substances were the most pure they had ever seen, according to a court complaint.

Yahnke is being held in Faribault County Jail.

The felony charge he faces carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

This is the second time Yahnke has faced an explosives charge.

In 2006, he was charged as a juvenile for leaving an explosive in a portable bathroom in Albert Lea.