WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A former resident of the Morin Heights housing complex in Woonsocket is now in police custody following a bomb scare Thursday morning.
Jan Carlos Martinez-Lopez, 22, turned himself in Thursday afternoon and was charged with one count of placing explosives, according to police.
About 50 residents of the complex were evacuated after Woonsocket Housing Authority employees entered Martinez-Lopez’s recently vacated unit and found a small device resembling a pipe bomb. The bomb squad was called in to remove it from the apartment.
The state fire marshal initially called the device a hoax but further examination revealed that it contained explosive material such as gun powder, police said.
Deputy Police Chief Michael Lemoine later added that the device was found in the closet of a second-floor bedroom.
“It wasn’t a booby trap,” he said.
Chief Thomas Oates said the device was several inches in length, had a wick attached and appeared to be rigged to explode.
“Certainly any type of a pipe bomb, even that size – four or five inches – would do quite a bit of damage, especially in a confined room or to anyone that was in that room,” Oates said.
Martinez-Lopez was scheduled to be evicted on Friday, according to police, but he had already moved out by Thursday morning.
Residents have since been allowed back into their homes.
The motive behind the device is unclear at this time. The incident remains under investigation.