A rural Suffolk road was teeming Saturday with police and federal agents after a morning raid on a barn loaded with military-grade explosives and ordnance.
Police secured a warrant Friday night after receiving a tip.
Elbert Tillman Jr., 34, of the 6500 block of Ferry Point Road, was taken into custody in connection with the raid but has not been charged with a crime, Suffolk fire and rescue spokesman Capt. Jim Judkins said.
There’s no legal way for a civilian to buy the explosives and ordnance found in the barn, including C-4 plastic explosives, Claymore mines and detonators, Judkins said . The only way to get them is through the military or the black market. Possessing them is a felony.
“It was an amount large enough to do damage to all the houses in the neighborhood,” Judkins said. He said that area reaches from the home on Ferry Point Road about a third of a mile in any direction.
Judkins said Tillman is a former Navy SEAL, having left the exclusive unit about six years ago. Judkins said Tillman – who arrived home after the raid began – was cooperating with authorities Saturday and remained on scene in police custody for several hours.
In addition to Suffolk police and fire officials, FBI and ATF agents and the Virginia State Police also were participating in the search, remaining well after dark Saturday evening.
In the midst of the explosives search, Judkins said police called for a second warrant, for drugs.
Tillman owns the property, more than 2 acres situated off Ferry Point Road in the Chuckatuck area, near the closed Kings Highway Bridge. According to city records, he bought the land in 2004.
Ferry Point Road is part paved, part gravel, and homes are situated on tracts of several acres each.
Tillman’s home is on land that once was part of Gov. Mills Godwin’s farm.
Neighbors said Tillman lives there with his wife and four children.
Bruce Bowyer, a former Army Ranger who lives three doors from Tillman, said news of the arsenal didn’t startle him.
“You can throw it and not have any risk of it blowing up,” Bowyer said of the plastic explosives and mines. “Of course, if that barn had been hit by lightning, it’d make a pretty good hole in the ground.”
Bowyer last ran into Tillman while the former SEAL was trick-or-treating with his children.
“He seemed like a normal guy,” Bowyer said. “My guess is, these were probably just war trophies.”
Possessing the explosives and ordnance found in the barn, including C-4 plastic explosives, Claymore mines and detonators, is a felony. Elbert Tillman Jr., 34, owns the property where the raid took place. No charges have been filed.
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