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California man convicted on federal charges of manufacturing bombs, destroying property

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

A Merced man arrested last year for having improvised explosive devices was convicted in federal court Tuesday.

Wes Parker McDaniel, 53, pleaded guilty to felony manufacturing destructive devices and maliciously destroying two residential properties by means of explosive material in Merced, according to the office of U.S. District Attorney Phillip A Talbert.

Between Feb. 1 and June 22 last year, McDaniel made 10 destructive devices from illegal firework material he purchased in Nevada, along with shrapnel, ammunition, fire-starting material and other items, according to a news release.

McDaniel deployed three of the bombs at a house in Merced on June 20, 2021. One of the bombs hit a wall of the house and exploded, destroying a fence shared with a neighboring property.

Shrapnel from the device created pockmarks on the house’s wall and burned a propane tank.

McDaniel also threw a bomb at another Merced residence and placed two bombs near a car at a Lemoore apartment complex, the release said.

Those bombs did not detonate. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at McDaniel’s home, yard and shed following those incidents.

During the search investigators located four bombs, bottle rockets, fireworks, boxes of ammunition, fire-starting material, a .22 caliber rifle and other bomb-making items.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan 17 before U.S. District Judge Ana De Alba, according to the release.

McDaniel faces five to 20 years in prison for malicious destruction of property by means of explosive materials, according to authorities.

He also faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison for the manufacturing of the bombs. Each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

Merced Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Lemoore Police Department, and Tulare County Sheriff’s Office worked to investigate the case which is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. District Attorney Karen Escobar.


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