A former high school teacher and his twin brother have been arrested in New York City after explosive materials were found at their home, prosecutors say. It’s unclear what they planned to do with the material.
Christian Toro, who is 27, has been charged with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device and one count of distribution of explosive materials to a minor. His twin brother, Tyler Toro, has been charged with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device.
“Thanks to the brave men and women of the NYPD and FBI, we can report tonight that a possible terror attack has been foiled,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “They have done extraordinary work and, in this case, have likely saved many, many lives.”
According to court documents, the investigation began on December 4 when a bomb threat was made against a high school in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, which resulted in a student being arrested. Christian, who was a teacher at the school, then suddenly resigned a short time later.
After the resignation, Tyler returned to the school a laptop that the school had provided to Christian for use in connection with his employment. When a technical specialist at the school reviewed the device, they found a document with instructions on how to build bomb.
An FBI agent said in court documents that he and other agents went to the brother’s apartment on February 8 to interview Christian, who claimed that he had not intentionally downloaded the document. Instead, he said he had come across the document while researching the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
“Christian Toro stated that he had never built a bomb and had only looked at the explosives book’s table of contents,” the FBI agent said.
On Wednesday, FBI agents interviewed multiple students who indicated that, between October and early January, Christian had paid at least 2 students to break apart fireworks and store the powder that came out of it in containers. The students were paid $50 per hour, they said.
As a result, a judge issued a search warrant, which was executed at an apartment in the Bronx on Thursday morning. This led to the discovery of more than 30 pounds (13 kilograms) of chemicals, including iron oxide, aluminum powder, potassium nitrate, explosive material, and firecrackers.
Investigators also found a bag with scores of metal spheres, which can be used as projectiles to cause extra damage and casualties when a bomb explodes.
It was not immediately known why the brothers were allegedly making explosives or what, if anything, they planned to do with it. There was no word on whether the two men had any links to a terrorist organization.
A handwritten book resembling a diary was also found in the apartment and referred to ‘Operation Flash.’ “We are twin Toros strike us now, we will return with nano thermite,” it said, according to court documents.
Other pages referred to Christian’s arrest for rape of a child on January 31. “If you’re registered as a sex offender, things will be difficult. But I am here 100%, living, buying weapons. Whatever we need,” one section of the diary said.
Law enforcement also found a backpack which contained an index card with handwriting, stating: “Under the full moon the small ones will know terror.”
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