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Weapons, drug cache found
Jul 25, 2006 12:00 am
MT. JULIET — Based on a tip from a photo tech lab about a weapons cache in a West Wilson County home, city police and a handful of state agencies raided the residence of J.E. Duncan on Tuesday night, discovering a homemade rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a slew of weapons and a small marijuana-growing operation, authorities said.
Duncan, 53, of 195 Paradise Drive, was arrested on multiple weapons and drug manufacturing charges, but was out on a $16,500 bond Wednesday morning. He is charged with two counts of possession of an explosive weapon, two counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, one count of manufacturing marijuana, one count of criminal attempt to manufacture methamphetamine and one count of felony possession of drug paraphernalia.
Mt. Juliet police were tipped off about Duncan by a local photo lab tech who called them when he processed photos which revealed what looked to be a weapons cache. The majority of the 51 images developed showed what appeared to be a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, ammunitions and possible explosive materials, as well as a shot of the front of Duncan's home, police said. Other images on the film were Christmas pictures.
Police said Duncan's live-in female companion, who dropped off the film, has not been charged at this point.
After seeing the pictures, Mt. Juliet police with the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Operations Division; the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency; the state Bomb and Arson Squad; the District Attorney's Office; and local judicial Drug Task Force obtained a search warrant and descended on Duncan's home late Tuesday afternoon, Mt. Juliet Police Chief Winston "Ted" Floyd said.
Authorities found the homemade rocket launcher, which was one of the images captured on film.
However, a thorough search of the residence and outside buildings did not uncover all the companion ordnances or military ammunition revealed in the confiscated photographs.
"We are investigating where the ordnances in the pictures might be," Mt. Juliet Detective David Stolinsky said.
He noted four different kinds of ammunition were in the processed pictures.
"If launched from that homemade rocket, they would be powerful enough to take down a Black Hawk helicopter," the detective said.
Along with the 4-foot rocket launcher, police and agents found about 20 guns and a "possible" volatile substance that could not be identified. The police chief explained the substance was safely disposed in a remote area by the Bomb and Arson Squad at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"It was a huge explosion," Floyd said. "So loud it shook some of Mt. Juliet, and we had calls inquiring about its nature."
Many of the numerous weapons seized were homemade with several components which could be used to develop improvised incendiary devises. The weapons included handguns, rifles and modified shotguns.
"At this point we just don't know what Duncan planned to do with all the weapons," Shearer said. "When asked, he did not respond directly. We know he has no criminal past."
Along discovery inside Duncan's home was the "first meth lab ever discovered in the city limits," Mt. Juliet City Manager Rob Shearer said Wednesday.
Stolinsky explained while no meth had been cooked on the premises, the home had "all the makings of a meth lab." He added the familiar "stench" of a meth house was not reported, because no meth had been cooked yet.
"Though cooking had not started, there was everything needed to start it up including beakers, acetone and other ingredients," he said.
In addition to the meth lab, authorities found a small marijuana-growing operation. Stolinsky said Duncan, who is on disability and has no criminal history, told him he was growing the drug for "medicinal purposes."
Police are investigating how long Duncan lived in the neighborhood near the Nonaville Road area. And they are trying to determine the veracity of reports by his neighbors who say he claims to have served in the armed forces.
Unidentified neighbors reported people avoided Duncan, and he was "particular" about people being on his property. One of the windows of the house was covered by aluminum foil.
Stolinsky said the ATF will present the case to the Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Floyd and Shearer said they were proud of the quick police work on this case and thanked all the state agencies involved as well as the Wilson Emergency Management Agency.
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.