A 50-year-old Harlan man who abused methamphetamine and had an ongoing dispute with his ex-wife about custody of their children and child-support payments acquired items needed to build a fertilizer bomb in July and hoped to kill several law-enforcement officers, according to state and federal court documents.
Officers searched Blake Edward Cooper’s house and vehicle on July 30 after his girlfriend showed a deputy sheriff a text message she allegedly received from Cooper that said:
“There gonna come for me. I bet this week. Collateral damage is key to whether or not people get informed as to how rigged the whole family law system is,” the message said, according to court records. “If 6 cops get killed, 4 wounded and several innocent civilians get killed or severely wounded, then it becomes national news. And that’s the only way anything is ever gonna get stuff changed.”
Cooper also allegedly sent the girlfriend a photo of a box that contained 50 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a crop fertilizer that can be used to make a bomb. The same fertilizer was used for the truck bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed about 170 people and injured hundreds more, but that bomb had thousands of pounds of the fertilizer.
Officers found an extensive amount of bomb-making materials at Cooper’s house and meth in his vehicle, court records show. Among the materials were: Ammonium nitrate, flash powder, a wireless detonator, batteries, dozens of electric igniters, cardboard tubes, steel containers and a timer switch.
Also at Cooper’s house, officers found an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and a Tec-9 pistol, a weapon that is notorious for its easy conversion to fully automatic firing and its large ammunition capacity. Cooper told investigators he had about 30 firearms.
Cooper initially was arrested for felony possession of incendiary or explosive device, but that state criminal charge was dropped in favor of a federal charge for being a drug user in possession of a firearm. Cooper faces more than 10 years in prison if convicted.
A judge declined to allow Cooper to post bail, court records show, because the judge was “concerned with the amount and type of guns, the bomb making materials and the threats of violence.”
Court records show Cooper has had an intermittent relationship with his ex-wife for more than 20 years and has four children with her, two of whom now are adults. Court filings in the past year show that Cooper has sought an evenly-split custody arrangement for the two younger children and for his monthly child-support payments to be reduced from about $1,000 to $500.
Cooper has appealed a judge’s decision that denied him those requests.