Mark Edward Allen, age 60 of St. Petersburg, has been arrested and charged according to a federal criminal complaint for the possession of unregistered explosive devices.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Allen made his initial appearance in federal court on June 4, 2019, and has been detained.
The FBI Tampa Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) began to investigate following an incident that occurred on the campus of the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. The facility is located at 10000 Bay Pines Boulevard in Bay Pines, Florida.
The initial incident began on May 29, 2019 at approximately 1 p.m. Multiple agencies were dispatched to the campus for a suspicious package investigation. The package was located near the east gate of the campus. Officers from the Tampa Police Bomb Squad arrived on-scene to assess and render the package safe.
According to the criminal complaint, on or about May 29th, Allen placed an improvised explosive device at the Veterans Affairs Hospital. Personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, City of Seminole Fire Rescue, Bay Pines VA Police, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and Tampa Police responded to the VA Hospital.
The bomb squad determined that the device contained a 9-volt battery, electrical wires, an improvised initiator, an unknown powder, and a clothespin switch. Bomb technicians ultimately rendered the device safe.
Bay Pines Boulevard was closed until about 5:30 p.m. The east gate of the campus remained closed for many more hours as investigators scoured the area.
It was determined that the unknown black power was black powder. The device was sent to the FBI explosives unit in Virginia for further analysis.
Investigators were able to obtain video surveillance footage from gas station across the street from the VA. The video shows a person leaving the campus described as a while male with a long grey beard, wearing a US Army baseball hat, a blue long sleeve shirt and black shoes.
On Friday, May 31, 2019, the Tampa Police bomb squad was dispatched to a home in the 6400 block of 24th Avenue N in St. Petersburg. Allen’s wife reported that her husband, a US Army veteran, had made a bomb at his home located at 637 88th Avenue N. While he was sleeping, she put the device in the trunk of her car and drove it to a friend’s house off 24th Avenue N because she was scared.
Video from that scene can be viewed below.
Bomb technicians analysed the device and determined it to be an improved explosive device. It was determined that the VA Hospital IED likely came from the same person. His wife viewed the surveillance footage from the gas station and confirmed it was her husband on the campus of the VA hospital.
Investigators collecting evidence at the scene
The FBI Tampa Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted a court authorized search and arrest warrant for Allen at approximately 7 a.m. on June 1, 2019 in connection to the Bay Pines VA incident. This occurred at his home at 637 88th Avenue N in St. Petersurg.
The court authorized search led to Allen being taken into custody according to Andrea Aprea, Public Affairs Officer with the FBI Tampa Division.