2 men charged with driving around St. Paul with a pipe bomb

The bomb was found in a rented car Saturday.

A bomb scare that led police to evacuate homes in a St. Paul neighborhood Saturday has led to federal charges against two men. 

Frederic Pittman III of Roseville, 37, and 40-year-old Monttraill Claiborne of St. Louis will appear in court on Friday. Both are charged with felony possession of a pipe bomb. Claiborne also faces felony charges of illegally having two guns. 

The federal charges filed against them this week (read them here) are based on an ATF agent's investigation.

Cops were called about a gas station argument

It was an incident at a Super America on St. Paul's east side that led to the initial police call on Saturday morning.

The caller said they were awakened by people yelling. Looking out the window, the person saw two men confronting some women. One of the men got a gun out of a silver car and pointed it at a woman before the men drove off, the caller said.

Officers who arrived at the Super America looked at surveillance footage to see the men and the car. They caught up with them at Maryland Avenue and Lake Place. 

Searching the rented Ford Fusion, police found two pistols inside, one of which had been reported stolen in St. Louis four years ago. When they got to the trunk, they found a duffel bag, and inside it was an explosive device made from PVC pipe.

After nearby homes were evacuated, a bomb squad defused the pipe and confirmed that the powder in it was explosive, the ATF agent writes. 

St. Louis suspect has a criminal record

Both suspects told police they didn't know about the guns or pipe bomb in the rented car. Claiborne, the suspect from St. Louis, said he'd only been in Minnesota less than a day and was a passenger in the car. 

Pittman said he'd borrowed the car from a friend, but the rental agency's records showed both Pittman and another person signed the month-long rental agreement, investigators said. 

Authorities say Claiborne's criminal record in Missouri includes drug convictions for both possession and trafficking that date back to 1995. His felony record prevents him from legally owning a gun. 

Both men are due to appear at a hearing in U.S. District Court in St. Paul at noon on Friday.

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