One man in Ohio got a whole lot more than he bargained for. All he was trying to do was raise some cash to pay for his new lawn mower, he wasn’t expecting to blast himself into the after-life. Neighbors pretended not to know what he was up to and didn’t say a word until their dishes rattled. By then it was way too late.
Dying for a new lawn mower
Saturday night in Ashtabula, Ohio was a real blast. Only in America’s rural heartland would a man try to raise a little extra money by peddling improvised explosive devices on the black market.
All his neighbors knew that 55-year-old Michael Hopkins was building bombs in his garage to pay for the fancy lawn mower which he just bought. They just didn’t bother to tell anyone.
On Monday, Ashtabula County Sheriff William Niemi held a press conference to try to explain what they figured out since the fatal explosion. They were called to the scene at 1320 Clay Street after firefighters had already arrived.
Deputies had talked to the neighbors and learned that Hopkins was building bombs in a detached garage for a particular purpose. The “victim told neighbors he was making the devices to pay off a lawn mower he purchased,” Sheriff Nemi relates. He’s sort of cheesed off over it too.
Sheriff Niemi told the community that he was “thankful that nobody else in the area was injured in the incident” but it would have worked out a lot better for everyone involved if someone had spoken up just a tad sooner.
He didn’t come right out and say it but he was glaring as he “urged people to report any potential illegal activity in their neighborhoods.” His deputies don’t like picking people up off the lawn.
Family members to the rescue
Investigator Keith Stewart with the Ashtabula County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Hopkins “was found outside the garage” on the lawn when Jefferson Fire Department emergency workers arrived on the scene, thanks to heroic efforts from family members.
Somebody called in the explosion at 7:54 p.m. Before the paramedics got there, “family members had moved Hopkins from the building to just outside the door.” Just in the nick of time too.
When “the medical team arrived the fire was so hot that the fire department had to knock down the fire before they could treat him.” They eventually got him off the lawn and into an ambulance for transport to UH Geneva Medical Center, “where he was pronounced dead at 9:16 p.m. on Saturday evening.”
By the time the “deputies arrived on scene, the detached garage located behind the residence was burned to the ground and debris was scattered into the neighbor’s yard.” They called in the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
An ATF spokesperson reports that they went over the scene with a fine tooth comb all through the day Sunday “making sure there were no further explosives on the property to make ensure the community was safe.” Hopkins got lucky this time, Suzanne Dabkowski observes.
“Since the suspect is deceased, no federal charges will be filed.” Unless, that is, “new information surfaces” like the name of his prospective client. He seemed to think he could get the lawn mower money from somewhere.