The explosion left the victim with injuries to his chest, legs, and front of his body -- after the bomb was left in a gift box on his doorstep, tied with a red ribbon.
An Ohio man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to transporting explosives with intent to injure and possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device, after allegedly leaving a bomb on the front step of the man who was dating a woman who rejected him.
The ordeal began back in October 2020, after suspect Clayton Alexander McCoy "expressed romantic feelings" for a woman he knew for a number of years though a "live action role-playing battle game/social club" called Dagorhir. Per a release from the United States Department of Justice, she said she told McCoy she was in a relationship with another member of the club and "did not share McCoy's romantic feelings."
According to his guilty plea, McCoy hatched a plan to kill the woman's boyfriend, deciding to deliver a bomb to the man's house "with the intent to kill [him] in order to remove him as a romantic rival."
The DoJ says McCoy researched how to make a pipe bomb, before shopping around for the necessary items to make explosive powder and the bomb itself. He filled the bomb with shrapnel he allegedly made by cutting scrap metal with an angle grinder saw, along with BBs, "to increase the deadliness" of the device. He also's accused of making a prototype he tested in his own yard, to be sure it would blow up.
After placing the homemade bomb into a white gift box tied with a red ribbon, he allegedly drove seven hours from his home in Ohio to the victim's house in Maryland the day before Halloween 2020 ... with the bomb in the back of his pickup truck. He then left the box on the man's doorstep, where his grandfather found it and left it for the victim to open when he got home.
After finding a box addressed to him, the victim texted his girlfriend to ask if she had sent it to him -- before taking it to his bedroom to open in private. Once he did, it detonated and he was struck with shrapnel which left him with injuries to his chest, legs and the front of his body. The victim allegedly "heard a whistling or hissing sound followed by an explosion."
"I'm in the kitchen I hear an explosion and I hear my grandson scream," the victim's grandmother told WBAL at the time. "You hear your grandson yell, 'What the f---,' and then you hear your house explode and he screamed and that's the last thing I heard."
"Have you ever been hit in the back of the head and shove it so fast forward, your glasses fly off and it feels like the pressure just -- boom? That's what I felt in the kitchen," she added.
The victim then spent the next couple of weeks in the hospital, where he underwent multiple surgeries to remove the shrapnel from his body. They didn't get it all -- as the DoJ release says "multiple pieces" still remain inside. In addition to his physical injuries, his home sustained almost $50k work of damages and wasn't deemed "inhabitable" until March 2021. He and his grandparents had to move amid his recovery and repairs.
Around the same time the victim moved back into his home, investigators were able to obtain and execute a search warrant on McCoy's Ohio home and found items -- including explosive powder -- used to build the bomb. He initially denied playing any role in the bombing, and said that while he knew the victim, he didn't know where he lived and even named someone else from the LARPing group who "did not like" the victim. The DoJ says that he eventually "admitted that he made and delivered the bomb" after authorities showed they had proof of his movements from Ohio to Maryland on the day of the bombing thanks to Verizon and Google data.
Following his guilty plea, McCoy faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for transporting explosives with intent to injure and a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm/explosive device. A sentencing date has not yet been set.