COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Nearly a year after an incident that shut down part of an east Columbus neighborhood, one of the men charged pleaded guilty to two of the charges against him in court.
On April 5, 2016, the Columbus Bomb Squad was called out to a house on the 600 block of South Hampton Road, where they found materials to make bombs.
On Monday, Roberto Innis, Jr., 22, appeared before a judge in Franklin County Common Pleas Court where he entered guilty pleas to charges of aggravated arson with a firearm specification and criminal use of an explosive device. Both charges are felonies and, together, could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, as well as $35,000 in fines, plus court costs and restitution.
The house where it all happened has been demolished now. The two men, Innis and Alfonso Mobley, were apparently squatters.
“It’s like out of the movies,” James Jessie said. “It’s crazy.”
Jessie remembered the day clearly. He said he and his wife weren’t able to get back to their house, where their two teenagers were.
“Pretty scary,” Jessie said. “We couldn’t get to our kids, you know. Police were all over the place, you know, bombs were being exploded.”
Firefighters initially came out to the house, where Innis told them his friend, Mobley, was inside and had been injured. Mobley was taken to Grant Medical Center.
According to prosecutors, the Bomb Squad found a small amount of white crystalline powder, along with a note.
“[They] found a handwritten letter that indicated racial epithets towards police officers, as well as hate symbols and an amount of explosives in an envelope with this note, indicating that a large amount of explosives was placed in a school and a time of detonation,” the prosecutor said Monday in court.
That note, prosecutors said, was part of a larger plan to distract police officers with an explosion so the men could rob a bank or armored car.
“It’s just sort of surreal that anything like that was going on on this street,” Jessie said.
Innis will be sentenced on Monday, March 13. Mobley’s case was continued to May 8.