A 55-year-old Oklahoma man has been arrested for allegedly mailing a "bomb" to Sheriff Joe Arpaio last year.
The package addressed to Arpaio's office was intercepted by postal inspectors in Flagstaff in April. A federal indictment of Gregory Lynn Shrader confirms what a law-enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told New Times when the package was discovered -- the device would not have exploded had Arpaio opened it.
Arpaio's chief deputy Jerry Sheridan referred to this as "an actual explosive device" at the time, and both Arpaio and Sheridan suggested Mexican cartels were responsible.
Instead, the FBI believes Shrader, an Oklahoma resident who's done prison time on drug-manufacturing charges, is responsible.
According to the federal indictment, the postal employee who picked up the package at a collection box in Flagstaff reported it to inspectors because he thought the 15 stamps and a return address in California were suspicious. Indeed, a postal inspector found what was identified as explosive powder leaking out of the box.
A bomb-squad robot from Flagstaff PD took x-ray images of the package, which showed that the box also contained wires, a battery, a bottle containing some unknown substance, and a pressure-release switch attached to the lid of the box. Authorities immediately believed they were dealing with an IED, but after closer inspection, the device was missing the wire needed to cause detonation, according to the indictment.
The first lead authorities checked out was the name of the man listed in the return address section of the package. That man said it certainly wasn't him, and said he thought Shrader, a former business partner, was trying to set him up.
Federal court records show Shrader sued his former partner in a dispute over their business ventures. The man told investigators that Shrader had tried to frame him in the past, and provided authorities with some mailings he received from Shrader, from Oklahoma.
Authorities started looking at Shrader, and through bank records cross-referenced with video surveillance footage, investigators were able to track Shrader and another person travel by car from Oklahoma to Arizona. One surveillance camera, located on the outskirts of Flagstaff, allegedly show Shrader driving by, 1.2 miles from where the postal worker initially picked up the package about half an hour later. The vehicle is seen driving the other way about an hour later.
A search warrant was served at Shrader's place, and the woman who was with Shrader said that she went to Arizona with Shrader for the purpose of mailing a package, and Shrader dropped off that package while wearing surgical gloves, according to the indictment. She also identified the precise drop-off box where Shrader had left the package.
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While serving the search warrant at Schrader's place, authorities also recovered "an image that closely resembles the return address label" on the package.
Shrader is being charged with "willfully making a threat."
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