Former tenant charged with threatening to bomb Morin Heights

Former tenant charged with threatening to bomb Morin Heights

WOONSOCKET – Police have charged a former resident of Morin Heights apartment complex with threatening to place a bomb in a public building after a pipe bomb was discovered in his apartment Thursday morning.

According to Deputy Chief Michael Lemoine, police were dispatched to 68 Morin Heights Boulevard around 9 a.m. Thursday morning after workers for the Woonsocket Housing Authority discovered what appeared to be a pipe bomb in an apartment.

The apartment had been vacated the day before by Jan Carlos Martinez-Lopez, a 20-year-old resident who was in the process of being evicted.

“When we got there, we confirmed what appeared to be a pipe bomb,” said Lemoine. “It was small, probably no bigger than 6 inches, but a classic looking-type pipe bomb with end caps.”

Though police initially thought the device may have been part of a hoax, technicians from the Rhode Island State Bomb Squad later confirmed the device did, in fact, contain some sort of explosive powder, said Lemoine.

“It could have technically been detonated if someone had lit that wick,” he added.

About 50 residents were evacuated from their apartments while police and members of the State Bomb Squad conducted an investigation. Police also closed a portion of Morin Heights Boulevard, reopening the road around 11 a.m.

Martinez-Lopez was arrested later in the day and has been charged with threatening to place a bomb in a public building. According to Lemoine, the individual is not unknown to police. The Woonsocket Police Department had previously responded to the property for reports of incidents involving Martinez-Lopez.

“We have been there for various complaints regarding this individual, so the Housing Authority went through the process of evicting him,” he said.

Police are still investigating a motive behind the incident.