A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a man accused of trying to blow up a natural gas pipeline in suburban Dallas last month.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas said 33-year-old Anson Chi has been charged with possession of an unregistered firearm or explosive device, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison if convicted.
According to media reports, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Chi on June 18 after he allegedly placed a homemade bomb — a bottle of metal nitrate — outside an Atmos Energy Corp. natural gas regulator station on Parker Road in Plano, TX. The indictment alleges that Chi possessed a destructive device or an explosive that was not registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
Chi reportedly admitted to investigators that he planted the bomb on the pipeline but it exploded before he planned for it to, causing injuries to his eyes, arms and hands. Media reports said police found Chi bloodied and under a sheet in a nearby residential neighborhood after the explosion and that he originally told authorities that he was hit by a car. He reportedly told an FBI agent at the hospital that he was jogging and picked up a glass bottle that exploded. He later admitted the story was a lie.
The FBI said it found weapons, chemicals used to make bombs and instructions to make bombs at a house in Plano that Chi was sharing with his parents. He remains in federal custody without bond pending trial.
The blast reportedly caused little damage to the Atmos pipeline. Shortly after the incident, John McDill, vice president of pipeline safety for Atmos, said the Dallas-based company has several preventative maintenance procedures in place at its facilities. “Safety is our No. 1 priority at Atmos Energy, and while [this] incident is rare in nature, it serves as a reminder for all residents to call 911 if they see any suspicious activity at one of our facilities,” McDill said.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Plano Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Andrew Stover.
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