Brian Keith Looney
CHURCH HILL — Federal authorities and the Kingsport Police Department bomb squad converged on a Church Hill neighborhood early Wednesday morning after items suspected to be pipe bombs, and /or pipe bomb making materials were allegedly found in a residence.
Late Tuesday night Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office deputies went to the residence of Brian Keith Looney, 51, 418 Elm Springs Road Lot 15, Church Hill, to serve a “failure to appear” arrest warrant stemming from a previous DUI arrest.
HCSO Chief Deputy Tony Allen said that deputies observed a small amount of drug paraphernalia in the Looney residence and asked for consent to search.
“At that time they found an explosive device,” Allen added.
The Kingsport Bomb Squad was then called to the residence, along with the Federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Allen said the items appeared to be pipe bombs in various states of completion. He said there appeared to be powder, fuse, and both PVC and lead pipes.
“There were several, but they appeared just to be components,” Allen added. “From there the case was turned over to the ATF.”
The process of searching and gathering evidence on Looney’s property took several hours.
Allen said he arrived on the scene around 1 a.m., and the scene was cleared around 11 a.m.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Marshall Stone from the Knoxville Office told the Times-News Wednesday that the FBI and ATF are working with local authorities on an ongoing investigation into the search of Looney’s property.
“Because of what they (the HCSO) found, we did respond to see if there was something there we needed to be aware of, and/or have federal interest in,” Stone said. “I can’t really comment on what was found out there. ... If, in fact, we develop enough information to believe there’s something illegal in terms of explosives out there, we will certainly turn that information over to the U.S. attorney’s office.”
Stone added, “People need to be interviewed, and whatever evidence may exist needs to be collected and looked at by someone — preliminarily at a local level, but potentially in a laboratory when you’re dealing with either drugs or explosives. Based upon how that goes, if probable cause is developed, then you can move forward with an arrest and filing criminal charges.”
As of Wednesday evening Looney was only facing the FTA charge, but he was being “held for questioning” in the Hawkins County Jail with no bond set.
Authorities said bond likely won’t be set before he appears in Sessions Court Monday morning.