Suspect Booked After Explosive Devices Found in Culver City-Area Apartment

Nearby streets and businesses were closed for the investigation, which began with a traffic stop late Tuesday

Residents returned home late Wednesday after bomb squad technicians earlier in the day blew up homemade explosive devices that had been found in a Culver City-area apartment, prompting evacuations and street closures in the busy area.

A suspect -- Robert Colt Wilson, 29 -- was in custody, and authorities said preliminary interviews revealed that he was an individual "curious" about making bombs.

"He's an individual that was intrigued, curious about the creation and making of bombs, but he went to the point where he actually manufactured them," Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Frank Preciado said of preliminary conversations with the suspect.

Neighbors identified Wilson, pictured below, in a photo obtained from his Facebook page.

Police responded to a first-floor apartment at Overland Avenue and Washington Boulevard (map), hours after a traffic stop late Tuesday night led investigators to believe the unit might contain explosives.

Wilson's car contained a gun, drugs and a suspicious device, authorities said.

Evacuations were ordered just before 8 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Nearby streets were closed for the investigation as officers deployed the department's bomb squad robot. Late Wednesday, those residents were allowed to go home.

At about 1:30 p.m., technicians exploded 17 devices one at a time in an alley on the south side of the apartment. Surrounded with a "bunker," the devices were shot at so that would explode, according to fire Capt. Jamie Moore.

The building in which the devices were found was set to remain on lockdown all night while the investigation continued and Wilson's apartment was searched, police said.

Wilson was taken into custody at 10:50 p.m.Tuesday by LAPD's Pacific Division, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department inmate website. He was being held on $500,000 bail on possession of destructive devices and materials.

Preciado said detectives were trying to determine if Wilson planned to target anyone or any particular institution.

A man with the same name and birth date was convicted in 2011 of carrying a concealed firearm, a spokeswoman with the county District Attorney's Office confirmed.

Police were investigating whether three other explosions in the area in recent months were linked to Wilson.

Richard Vanfleet said he lived across the hall from Wilson, whom he called quiet and police. Wilson received a lot of packaged, Vanfleet said.

The bomb squad investigation stemmed from a traffic stop late Tuesday night when LAPD officers pulled over a vehicle near Venice Boulevard and Midvale Avenue for expired registration. Police discovered a firearm, narcotics and "suspicious device" in the vehicle, according to the LAPD.

The traffic stop led to the apartment unit in which the driver of the vehicle resides. A person who knows Wilson said he lived in an apartment building in the 3800 block of Overland Avenue.

"This individual is alleged to have been manufacturing some type of explosive devices," said LAFD public information officer Jamie Moore.

The apartment and four nearby buildings were evacuated. Businesses in a strip mall, including an LA Fitness gym, tanning and nail salon were closed.

"Keep in mind, this is still an extremely dangerous situation for the Los Angeles Police Department," Moore said. "They are actually putting themselves in harm's way trying to eliminate these devices."

Aerial video showed fire department vehicles, ambulances, police squad cars and bomb squad vehicles on the street and in a nearby parking lot.

Authorities told NBC4 they do not believe the man has links to terrorism groups.

FBI officials confirmed the agency responded to the location. Details regarding the FBI's level of involvement were not immediately available.

Contact Us