ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (FOX 13) - The FBI has charged a St. Petersburg man with leaving an explosive device at the Bay Pines VA Hospital last week, and they say his frightened wife turned him in because he was making more such bombs at home.
Last Wednesday, roads around the busy hospital were shut down after authorities discovered the makeshift bomb outside one of the buildings. They say the device contained a 9-volt battery, electrical wires, an improvised initiator, an unknown powder, and a clothespin switch.
The bomb squad ultimately neutralized the bomb and no one was hurt.
Two days later, the FBI says, a woman called St. Petersburg police to report that her husband Mark Edward Allen was making bombs at their apartment on 88th Avenue N. She was so scared that she had taken one of the devices while he was sleeping and driven it to a friend’s house, then called police.
The Tampa Police Department bomb squad responded to that location and determined it matched the device that was found at Bay Pines. When investigators confirmed Allen matched the bearded figure seen in surveillance video leaving the Bay Pines device, they arrested him.
His neighbors are thankful he was caught before anything happened.
"At any time, one of them could have gone off," said neighbor Nancy Richards. "He was a nice guy and I couldn't believe it happened."
FOX 13 News spoke to the woman who lives in the home from where Allen's wife called the FBI.
"She has no idea [why he did this]," the woman said. "She's dumbfounded."
Allen, 60, is now charged with possession of unregistered explosive devices. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
Investigators did not immediately offer a motive for the crime, but they did note that he is a U.S. Army veteran who had appointments at the Bay Pines VA last week “for various medical conditions.”