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US Soldier Tried To Plant Explosive At FL Power Plant 6:04pm Thu May 23 '02 (Modified on 4:03pm Fri May 24 '02)

Where is the American Nero to play the violin as the US burns out of control?

US Soldier Tried To Plant Explosive At FL Power Plant
By Noelle Phillips

Jacksonville police arrested a Fort Stewart soldier Saturday after finding him armed, wearing black clothes and leaving a power plant where he allegedly left an explosive.
Spc. Derek Lawrence Peterson, 27, is being held on a $5 million bond by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Department of Corrections. He has been charged with attempting to detonate an explosive device.

Peterson belongs to B Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor and has been stationed at Fort Stewart since March, said Dina McCain, a Fort Stewart spokeswoman.

McCain said she did not know whether Army investigators were involved with the case and referred all questions about it to Jacksonville police.

An officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office stopped Peterson at 11:15 p.m. Saturday for speeding. The officer found Peterson wearing all black clothing and black, plastic pads on his knees and elbows, according to a sheriff's department report. He also had a pistol in a shoulder holster.

The officer recognized Peterson's black 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup because he had noticed it backed up to the Florida Power and Light station's main gate 30 minutes earlier as he drove to assist another officer.

The officer searched Peterson's truck and found a 12-inch knife, a six-inch knife, a 12-gauge shotgun, shotgun shells, .45-caliber bullets, four ammo magazines, a six-volt battery, duct tape, speaker wire and plastic from an explosive device, the report said.

After being informed of his rights, wrote arresting officer D.F. Valiante, "the suspect advised me that he was on the power plant property to practice recon tactics."

Police followed footprints on a dirt road at the power plant and found an explosive device underneath the power lines, the report said.

Peterson allegedly told police he had placed a Hoffman explosive device, equal in power to a half-stick of dynamite. He had planned to detonate the explosive but was worried that he would be injured in the blast, the report said. Instead, Peterson removed a six-volt battery and threw it into the woods.

A bomb squad disposed of the explosive.

Peterson's next court date is June 4. He is not allowed visitors at the jail, according to the corrections department.

Military reporter Noelle Phillips can be reached at phillips @ or 652-0366.



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