PA Man Arrested Making Military Grade Explosives in Home Lab to Prepare for 'Apocalypse'

A Pennsylvania man was arrested Wednesday for operating a dangerous and illegal home laboratory where he was allegedly making military-grade explosives.

Joseph M. McClure, 44, of Middletown is being held without bail for charges of possessing weapons of mass destruction, risking a catastrophe and reckless endangerment, according to court documents viewed by Newsweek.

Police and a bomb squad closed down a section of the city around McClure's apartment for hours following the discovery of his lab which contained highly volatile, highly explosive material used in making military-grade explosives like Semtex that police said McClure had no training in handling.

McClure "did admit that he possessed explosive items and materials related to explosive materials, making explosives and compounds related to such," Detective Keegan Wenner wrote in arrest papers filed with District Judge David H. Judy, "and that he had an at-home laboratory, not being formally trained in any capacity related to these items."

In addition to the general "glassware and items related to a clandestine laboratory," Wenner referenced in the arrest papers, police also said they found pentaerythritol tetranitrate, nickel hydrazine nitrate and picric acid which are all highly explosive. McClure additionally told police he had ammonium nitrate which can also be used to make explosives.

Possession of these unstable compounds in a residential apartment building could have caused a "catastrophic explosion" that would have endangered the lives and property of the entire neighborhood according to police documents.

The home lab was lacking in proper ventilation, meaning that the fumes alone could have caused deadly harm to other residents of the apartment building.

When asked why he was in possession of all the explosives and military-grade bomb-making materials, McClure reportedly told investigators he was preparing for "apocalyptic scenarios" and that he wanted to "protect himself."

McClure reportedly admitted to police he knew keeping such volatile chemicals in a home lab was dangerous to those around him.

As a felon, it is illegal for McClure to own weapons like firearms, and McClure acknowledged to police that he knew this. He has two DUIs and two convictions related to making terrorist threats in 2005 and 2010.

Joseph McClure
A Pennsylvania man was arrested Wednesday for operating a dangerous and illegal home laboratory where he was allegedly making military-grade explosives. Above: Joseph McClure, 44. Mugshot. Mugshot/Middletown Police Dept.

Police first learned of McClure's suspicious activity via federal Homeland Security investigators who informed them that he had been receiving mailings with items that could be related to bomb-making.

Middletown Borough Public Safety Director William Baldwin told Penn Live the charges have been filed at the state level, but will likely be moved to federal court.

Newsweek reached out to Baldwin for comment on the case but did not hear back before press time.