Monterey man facing multiple charges for allegedly making, selling explosives

Investigators from the state Department of Fire Services Special Operations Unit ride an ATV on Friday to the Lake Buel staging area in Monterey from the West Road property where police found dozens of explosive devices and materials.

MONTEREY — A town man is facing multiple criminal charges for allegedly manufacturing and selling homemade explosives, after a suspicious resident tipped off authorities.

The man was summonsed to court after a search at a West Street home by state police detectives Friday revealed "dozens of completed destructive devices and explosive components," according to a statement released Saturday by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Officials have not released the man's name, or the date of his court hearing.

Authorities removed the devices, characterized as Class M explosives, and safely detonated the devices and materials. The investigation is ongoing, but the statement said there does not appear to be a public safety threat.

According the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives website, Class M devices include fireworks.

"Explosive devices commonly referred to as M-80s; M-100s, M-250s; M-1000s, and cherry bombs exceed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's explosive weight limits for consumer fireworks and are therefore classified as illegal by ATF and many other law enforcement agencies," according to the site.

The robust police response Friday alarmed residents of this Lake Buel neighborhood, as Route 57 was closed to all but local traffic, and detectives set up an investigation staging area alongside state and local authorities.

At one point an explosives-containment vessel was seen exiting the staging area. Detectives from a state Fire Services Special Operations Unit traveled back and forth in an ATV from the home where the explosives were found to the mobile investigation units.

About 1:30 a.m. Saturday, several residents around Monterey reported that they felt their houses shake from four large explosions.

Monterey Police Chief Gareth Backhaus released a statement on the town website later Saturday, explaining that police had detonated the devices.

"We apologize for not letting the residents know about the explosions prior but releasing any information could've compromised the ongoing investigation," the statement read.

Officials also said there have been other similar cases in the state this year. Residents who suspect such activity are asked to call local police or the state's Arson Hotline at 800-8682-9229.

Multiple local, state and federal agencies assisted in the investigation and execution of the search warrant, including Monterey Police, fire and public works departments, the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit, the state police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit, the state police Joint Terrorism Task Force, the ATF and the FBI.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.