Michael Christoper Estes, the man accused of leaving an explosive device near the entrance to the baggage claim of Asheville Regional Airport last October, plead guilty Friday morning in federal court to one count of unlawful possession of explosive material. A sentencing date for Estes has not been announced. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250-thousand fine.
On the morning of October 6th, the explosive device was found roughly six hours after Estes left it outside the airport's terminal. Prosecutors say the device was placed inside two plastic bags each of which were tied in knots, and contained nails, a shotgun cartridge, and other material known to explode "violently" once ignited. According to court documents, the phrases "FOR GOD & COUNTRY" and "FOR ALL THE V/N VETS OUT THERE!!!" were written on the device. An alarm clock attached to it was positioned to go off at 6 a.m. but was not set.
Estes was arrested the following day near the airport. The 46-year-old, formerly of Tazewell, Tennessee, admitted in court Friday morning to buying the materials needed for the explosive device and then building it. Court documents following his arrest detail that Estes told law enforcement that terrorists were coming to the U.S. and we were getting ready to fight a "war on U.S. soil" - and his belief that federal agencies were unprepared for it. Estes went on to say his intention was to create a "training scenario" and not hurt the public, believing law enforcement would "now know how" to make similar devices once it picked up his.