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Jury Convicts Ohio Man of Dropping Pipe Bombs on Tugboats

Mike Schuler
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April 27, 2022

A federal jury in West Virginia has convicted an Ohio man of all four counts charging him in connection with pipe bombs found on tugboats on the Ohio River.

Law enforcement officers recovered the devices from two different tugboats moving barges on the Ohio River on October 21 and October 25, 2021.

Evidence at trial revealed Nathaniel Blayn Becker, 42, appeared on security video purchasing pipes and other components of the devices from a Lowe’s store in Marietta on four separate occasions and close in time to when the devices were found. Around the time of the first incident, exterior security video from Lowe’s and a nearby Walmart showed Becker carrying pipe bomb components toward an Ohio River bridge.

Investigators believe the pipe bombs were dropped onto the tugboats from the bridge.

Nathaniel Blayn Becker

Becker was found guilty of two counts of possession of an unregistered destructive device and two counts of placement of a destructive device on a vessel. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 18, 2022, and faces up to 60 years in prison.

The jury also heard that similar devices were discovered on a third tugboat moving barges on the Ohio River on October 26, 2021. However, those devices were found to contain non-explosive septic tank cleaner and therefore Becker was not charged.

Becker was on probation at the time of the offense, following an unrelated conviction in August 2020.

“We are fortunate that no one was injured. Such senseless potential for harm and destruction clearly required decisive action,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson in making the announcement. “The swift and successful investigation by the law enforcement agencies involved absolutely prevented this situation from becoming worse, and I commend them. I applaud Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua C. Hanks and Nick Miller, along with their trial team, for securing the guilty verdict.”

Thompson also thanked Lowe’s, Walmart and the tugboat owners, identified as Crounse Corporation, Campbell Transportation Company and Marathon Petroleum Corp., for their extensive cooperation in the case as well.

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