Five arrested on explosive charges

The Courier, Houston/August 11, 2006
By Jamie Nash

The Woodlands - An investigation by federal and local law enforcement agencies led to federal charges against five Woodlands residents who allegedly were involved in manufacturing improvised explosive devices in a home.

Skyler Rice, 23, Ian Rice, 21, Douglas Harvey 23, William White, 41, and Brittney Davis, 21, were charged last week after indictments were issued.

Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams said the suspects, who have been linked to white supremacists, were charged with conspiracy to build or possess a destructive device and manufacture and possession of a destructive device. Skyler and Ian Rice also face federal charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Williams said.

The Montgomery County Fire Marshal's Office contacted the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms after a June 22 incident in which a pipe bomb was detonated beneath a vehicle in the 25000 block of Timber Lakes Drive in The Woodlands.

"We believe it was intended to damage or destroy the vehicle, which was parked in a driveway," Williams said.

The incident, which occurred in the early morning hours, was motivated by revenge, he said.

The Fire Marshal's Office, ATF and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation. On June 23, 359th state District court Judge Kathleen Hamilton signed a search warrant for the home of Skyler and Ian Rice, located at 19 Morning Forest Drive in the Village of Panther Creek. The warrant was executed that day by the MCFMO and MCSO.

Williams said the Rice brothers were taken by surprise.

"Skyler was in bed when they went in," he said. "He had a pistol."

Because Skyler Rice was a convicted felon, he was arrested for having the loaded gun in his possession.

"His brother Ian Rice, also a convicted felon, was arrested after being found in possession of illegal narcotics," Williams said.

Bomb-making materials were found in the home's garage, where authorities believe the pipe bomb was made.

"They were common items, which we were able to tie back to the device," Williams said.

When an explosive device is found, there is an examination to determine what the components are, which are then traced for their origin, he said.

"We found the components back at the house," Williams said.

Investigating officers recovered three rifles and two handguns from the home. Williams said one of the handguns was adapted for use with a silencer.

"The brothers have criminal histories involving the distribution of illegal drugs and weapons charges," Williams said.

Skyler Rice also had previous convictions for theft and evading arrest or detention.

As the investigation continued, authorities identified the other three suspects. On July 14, Douglas Harvey was arrested at the Wal-Mart on Texas 242 after he was located with the assistance of Department of Public Safety officers. Williams said Harvey fled after the Rice brothers' arrest and was returning when he was captured. He was in the company of a parolee who was arrested for possession of a firearm.

William White was arrested on July 21 on charges of assault, assault causing bodily injury to a family member, harassment, and terroristic threat.

Brittney Davis, the girlfriend of Skyler Rice, was arrested last week for her involvement with the pipe bomb, Williams said.

As alarming as the bomb-making materials might have been to The Woodlands community, information with greater implications was found.

"During the course of the investigation, officers learned that the suspects conducted surveillance of local law enforcement officers, including photographing officers and their vehicles," Williams said. "Some of these individuals are Aryan sympathizers."

That portion of the investigation is continuing, he said.

Although the pipe bomb incident was not racially motivated, Williams said investigators uncovered evidence in the home that linked the Rice brothers and their associates with white supremacist groups.

"Materials in their possession indicate they're sympathetic to that cause," Williams said.

When the five were charged with the federal crimes last week, Williams said a shotgun was recovered along with a silencer believed to be intended for use with the handgun recovered June 23.

"The individuals involved in this incident face numerous state weapons and drug charges, as well as federal explosive charges," Williams said.

All are currently in state or federal custody.

Morning Forest Drive resident Winnie Galindo, said she did not really know the Rice brothers but was surprised to hear about the charges against them.

"It's a very nice, quiet area," Galindo said. "It's mostly families."

Two other neighbors said they were afraid to comment.

Williams said most of the homemade explosive devices found in Montgomery County often involved juveniles experimenting with dangerous materials. However, he cautioned that the five now facing federal charges in no way fall into that category.

"This is not a juvenile experiment; this is a group involved in criminal activity," Williams said.

Darren Hess led the investigation for the Fire Marshal's Office.

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