On June 2, Cole Carini of Richlands, Virginia, showed up at the Clinch Valley Medical Center with a missing hand. Several fingers on Carini’s other hand were also gone, and he had shrapnel wounds to the neck and throat. A local sheriff’s deputy arrived to interview Carini, who claimed his gruesome injuries were the result of a lawnmower accident.
But something didn’t add up. Police, who knew Carini, 23, who has since been charged with lying to authorities, had previously been convicted on explosives charges, got a search warrant for his home and called in the FBI.
When investigators got to the residence, they found a trail of blood leading from a red minivan parked in the driveway to the front door of the house, and up the stairs to a second-floor bedroom, according to the affidavit. After stepping over a “flesh colored substance that…looked like a piece of human skin,” cops found a plastic bottle filled with triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, a “substance used in the creation of improvised explosive devices,” inside a footlocker.
Beside the footlocker was a box filled with rusty nails, and a plastic container, the top of which had been “peeled back in a manner consistent with an explosion,” the affidavit says. The blinds in the room were damaged, and a chunk of flesh was stuck to the ceiling.
Down the street, agents discovered more evidence by a shed behind Carini’s grandmother’s house: PVC pipes, pieces of loose wires, empty chemical containers, and a pit that appeared to have been the site of an explosion. Inside the shed, they turned up a hot plate, coffee cups with white, crystal-like residue inside them, a battery with wires attached to it, and a crumpled, partially legible letter lying on the ground.
“He casually walked through the shopping mall, his jacket concealed deadly objects,” the letter read, parts of which were illegible. “He was doing it and was assured it must be done. Even if he died this statement was worth it! He had… of tension that would come and go as he approached the stage of hot cheerleaders… A dead seriousness sank in as he realized he was truly passing the point of no return! He decided I will not back down I will not be afraid of the consequences no matter what I will be heroic I will make a statement like Elliott Rodgers [sic] did he thought to himself.”
Sheriff Brian Hieatt said whether Carini was the letter’s author had not been determined.
“It is still very alarming to find a letter like that among all these things that could cause death and destruction,” Hieatt said Friday.
The Holy Road neighborhood was evacuated while authorities cleared away the explosives, which were taken to the Richlands Police Department’s shooting range and detonated. Hieatt said later that the explosion could be heard from Holy Road, which is about three miles from the shooting range.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Virginia State Police, the Richlands Police Department and the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Zachary T. Lee and Whit Pierce are prosecuting the case for the United States.