Two men have been charged in connection to explosive devices that were detonated in Washington County earlier this week.
Just before 9 p.m. on Monday, Washington County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to reports of a loud “boom” noise in Lake Elmo, a news release says. The noise was heard near the 8000 block of 27th Street North. When deputies arrived, they located apparent remnants of an explosive device.
Several calls were also received shortly before 11 p.m. Monday about what was described as the sound of an explosion near Trading Post Trail and 59th Street in Afton. Deputies again discovered remnants of what appeared to be an explosive device.
Two suspects – Nicholas Jeffery Thole, 29, of Woodbury, and Thomas Slaikeu, 40, of Hudson, Wisconsin – were taken into custody on Tuesday evening. Thole has since been charged with one count of aiding and abetting explosive/incendiary device, a felony.
Thole had his first court appearance Thursday morning, while Slaikeu is being held in the St. Croix, Wisconsin, County Jail awaiting extradition back to Minnesota, a county spokesperson told Bring Me The News. Slaikeu is named as a defendant in the charges against Thole.
According to the criminal complaint, police found a UPC barcode in the Afton blast area and were able to determine Thole purchased the items used to make the device.
Thole denied any involvement in the Lake Elmo and Afton incidents. Later, though, he admitted he bought the items to make the device, built it at his cousin Slaikeu's house in Hudson, Wisconsin. After making the device, they drove to Afton to detonate it.
Slaikeu admitted to police that he and Thole made the devices and drove to Minnesota to detonate them, eventually agreeing on the Afton location.
Police later learned Slaikeu's girlfriend's vehicle was seen by a witness near the Lake Elmo incident.
Investigators are working to recover deleted content on their phones.
The investigation so far does not suggest these actions were based on political ideology or the current election, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.