A Penn State Altoona freshman from Moscow, Russia, was arrested late Friday and charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction and risking a catastrophe, after city police allegedly found a homemade bomb and bomb-making materials in his Juniata apartment - where they had come to look for a marijuana-growing operation.
Vladislav Miftakhov, 19, signed a consent to search, after which an officer found the bomb-related materials in a suitcase, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by police.
A state police bomb squad made the bomb "safe," then deconstructed it, according to city police.
Penn State Altoona student Vladislav Miftakhov was arrested at his residence at 118 N. Ninth Ave. late Friday evening.
Miftakhov is in Blair County Prison in lieu of $500,000 cash bail.
In the suitcase, police found a small aluminum container with an exposed fuse, a smaller plastic container with an exposed fuse, containers of compressed air, a can of static-guard spray, a package labeled potassium nitrate powder, a pound of atomized magnesium mesh, a pound of potassium perchorate, magnesium cord and loose fuses, according to the affidavit.
When a patrolman asked what Miftakhov planned to do with the devices with the attached fuses, he said "he was going to blow things up," although he didn't specify a target, according to the affidavit.
Later, at the police station - where he signed a waiver of his Miranda rights - Miftakhov said he was making "flash powder," experimenting with different mixtures and was planning to set off the devices "in a remote field," according to the affidavit.
At that time, he said he did not intend on "'blowing anything up,'" according to the affidavit.
He said he bought the materials to make the devices through Amazon within the previous three weeks and put them together in his room, according to the affidavit.
He said he had experimented with similar devices in California.
His Facebook page lists California as his home and Moscow as his hometown.
His parents live in California, according to an official.
He also told police he
hadn't detonated anything in Pennsylvania, and that after making the larger device, he'd been afraid to set it off.
The smaller device was "completed," he said, according to the affidavit.
One of Miftakhov's apartment mates, Andrew Leff of Bucks County, contradicted Miftakov's statement that he hadn't detonated anything in Pennsylvania, saying that during the current semester, Miftakhov had set off three "mini-bombs" just outside their apartment, creating small craters in the ground.
Recently, Miftakhov had showed Leff a bomb made by mixing chemicals in an aerosol whipped cream container, Leff said.
"I said, 'Dude, you've got to get rid of that,'" Leff said Saturday afternoon in the snow outside the apartment.
Miftakhov later told Leff he'd done as suggested.
"[But] apparently he
didn't," Leff said.
Miftakhov was a "crazy kid" who did "impulsive things," Leff said.
"He was off the wall," Leff said. "It's not surprising to me at all [to learn about the arrest]."
Leff said Miftakhov was a "dumb kid" who did what he did because he was bored.
Leff didn't see Miftakhov as truly dangerous, he added.
A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 5, according to an official at the prison.
The alleged bomb-making materials were sent to the state police lab in Harrisburg, according to an official. The Altoona Police Department contacted the ATF and FBI about the investigation.
Police initially contacted landlord William Kitt to gain admittance to the apartment, according to the affidavit.
They found five young marijuana plants, a lighting setup that included aluminum foil and plant food, according to the affidavit.
They contacted Miftakhov by cellphone, met with him, advised him of his Miranda rights and drove him to his apartment, according to the affidavit.
On the way, when asked by police about items connected with the marijuana growing operation, Miftakhov admitted he had a scale and marijuana seeds, which he gave to officers when they arrived at the apartment, according to the affidavit.
Possession of controlled substances and possession of paraphernalia are among the charges filed against Miftakhov, according to a police news release.
Miftakhov had been renting the apartment since August and had a one-year lease, Kitt said.
The building was "secure and safe," following a police search that included use of a dog, Kitt said Saturday afternoon.
"The safety of the other students is all I'm concerned about," Kitt said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.