At a Glance | April 16

Wisconsin Man Killed in Apartment Explosion Suspected of Building ISIS-Style Bombs

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A Wisconsin man who died in an explosion in his apartment is believed to have materials used in the manufacturing of a bomb utilized in various attacks committed by ISIS. Investigators found the body of Benjamin Morrow (right) in front of a still-lit stove and underneath a collapsed ceiling in the kitchen of his Beaver Dam apartment. The explosion March 5 forced an evacuation of the entire building, which was later destroyed in a controlled burn overseen by firefighters. Ingredients found in a search of the apartment are used in a bomb called “Mother of Satan,” which terrorists used in several attacks such as those in Manchester, England, and Paris. Wisconsin Department of Justice Investigator Kevin Heimerl described the scene in the kitchen as a “homemade explosive laboratory” in search records unsealed on April 5. White supremacist literature found by investigators in the apartment raised concern that Morrow, 28, may have been inspired or partnered with others to plan an attack. The findings of a second search warrant for a storage unit rented by Morrow were not released, but Heimerl speculated in the warrant application that the unit was used to keep chemicals with strong odors away from the apartment.

Ridgewood Doctor Accused of Possessing Bomb-Making Materials Faces Retrial on Weapons Charges

AA physician accused of keeping a large amount of bomb-making materials at his home in Ridgewood is scheduled for a new trial in June on separate weapons charges. State Superior Court Judge Frances McGrogan declared a mistrial on April 11 after a juror independently received information regarding the case against Dr. Roberto Rivera during deliberations, according to Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Torre. Rivera faces up to 10 years in prison on charges of possession of assault weapons and a high-capacity magazine after authorities seized two assault rifles and several ammunition magazines from his home in November 2012. Rivera was arrested following that raid, which also uncovered large amounts of materials that can be used to make bombs and instructions on how to construct homemade explosives. Rivera is charged with possession of a destructive device and creating risk of widespread harm in the explosives case, which is scheduled for a separate trial in October. Rivera is defending himself in both cases. A report to police from a neighbor about a conversation with Rivera regarding power outages caused by Superstorm Sandy prompted the investigation.   

Retailer Fires Employee After White Supremacist Propaganda Found in Diaper Boxes

Individuals who committed mass attacks throughout the United States in 2017 exhibited similar themes in their backgrounds, according to a report released on March 29 by the US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center. The study, which found commonalities in warning signs among attackers, examined 28 incidents carried out in public places around the country and where three or more people were killed or wounded. Males ranging in age from 15 to 66 years old committed all of the attacks, which occurred in the forms of workplace violence, domestic violence, school-based violence, and terrorism. Nearly half of the attackers were motivated by personal grievances (46 percent), and more than half had histories with criminal charges (71 percent), mental health symptoms (64 percent), and/or substance abuse (54 percent). All of the individuals experienced at least one significant stressor in the five years prior to their attacks, with financial instability present in 57 percent of the attacks. More than three-quarters of the attackers engaged in threatening or concerning communications or exhibited behavior that elicited concern in others.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.