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Probe of TSTC man continues

Feb. 23, 2001

No charges filed against student, official says

By JEFF SCHELDT

Assistant City Editor

Authorities still have questions for a TSTC student who voluntarily met with law enforcement officers Thursday after a search of his apartment turned up what officials say may be bomb-making supplies.

'We're in the process of investigating the situation and interviewing potential suspects for possible charges,' said Donny Harland, TSTC chief of public safety. 'No official charges have been filed at this time.'

Investigators handling the case are currently questioning Ryan William Walker, 21, of 2100 Campus Drive, apartment 306 D, along with several other residents living in the complex.

Residents at the Village Oaks apartment complex, located on the Texas State Technical College campus in Waco, were evacuated for nearly three hours Wednesday as ATF and Army bomb squad personnel conducted a search, according to the search warrant, for ' ... implements and items utilized in the manufacture of a prohibited weapon, to include any completed or partially completed explosive weapons, destructive devices, tools, and reference materials, including computerized storage media ...'

Harland also said, 'We evacuated the students as a precautionary measure. We collected evidence which is being evaluated for potential charges. There is nothing hazardous or dangerous near the [apartments] at this time.'

According to the search warrant, authorities seized items, including a 'box containing two capped and drilled PVC pipes, 1-pound Pyrodex [gunpowder] box,' various timing devices and power supplies.

Officials said they also seized what they described as a 'threatening letter.' Walker said he was unaware of any such letter.

Walker said that several of the items confiscated by authorities Wednesday were in a box of junk he has had since junior high school and that he has no plans of causing destruction.

'I've had that stuff forever,' he said. 'I wasn't planning on blowing up anything. I am extremely disappointed with them because they evacuated all those people and destroyed my stuff.'

Many people, in fact, keep what may pass for bomb components in their kitchens or garages.

'You have access to chemicals in your house right now that are as hazardous as the chemicals in our labs,' said Kirk Hunter, chairman of TSTC's chemical technology department.

Lab security is tight in the college's chemistry department.

'We've never had anything stolen from our labs,' Hunter said. 'Students do no have access to the labs without professors.'

Walker has been a student at TSTC for two semesters and one quarter. He is one of approximately 20 chemistry tech majors at the school and works as a lab assistant in the chemistry department. He and his girlfriend, also a chemistry major, are both student members of the American Chemical Society.

Walker's father says that his son 'has always been interested in chemistry.'

'He's absolutely a pacifist. He would not build anything to hurt other people. I couldn't even get him to go hunting,' Walker's father said. 'He is into experimenting though, and I've always encouraged him to learn. He liked the school up there very well.'

Walker said he would like to continue studying chemistry at TSTC 'if they let me' and eventually pursue a career involving chemistry. 'I want to work with pyrotechnics -- fireworks,' he said.

Walker is confident that he has done nothing wrong.

'I like just like to screw around with chemicals,' Walker said. 'This is all over nothing.'

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