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New Richmond man charged after pipe bomb discovered at Baldwin business

Clayton Blackburn

A New Richmond-area man was arrested Thursday after a live pipe bomb was discovered at a Baldwin business.

St. Croix County Sheriff's Office Lt. Brent Standaert said the item was reported just before 11 a.m. July 26 at the auction company Smith Sales, where it was found among items brought in by a woman.

Deputies learned the Polk County woman was unaware there was an explosive device among the items she brought in to have auctioned off.

Standaert said the items had allegedly belonged to a man she kicked out of a property he rented from her. He never returned to collect the items, Standaert explained, so she brought them to Smith Sales in an effort to "recoup some rent."

Deputies traced the items to a 26-year-old New Richmond resident Clayton T. Blackburn. He was charged Monday in Polk County Circuit Court with two felonies: possessing improvised explosives and possessing a gun silencer.

Blackburn was released on a signature bond ahead of an Aug. 20 preliminary hearing.

The incident lasted about nine hours until the scene was rendered safe; the Marathon County bomb squad handled and destroyed the bomb on site, Standaert said, adding that United Fire crews assisted with road closures.

"We were very concerned about the public's safety," he said of the incident, which led to evacuations of Smith Sales and neighboring businesses. "The device definitely posed a threat to public safety."

Standaert said Blackburn, whom he described as a former military member, "seems like a hobbyist" and there didn't appear to harbor malicious intent. The man was cooperative with authorities during the process, Standaert said.

According to a Polk County Sheriff's Office probable cause report, FBI agents assisted in the investigation and found a homemade silencer at Blackburn's former house. Blackburn told agents he had constructed both devices.

He said he made the pipe bomb while he was living in Florida, brought it back to Wisconsin and "lost track of it in his belongings," according to the report.

Authorities said the alleged silencer appeared to be operational.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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