An Escondido man is behind bars, charged with compiling what’s believed to be the largest stockpile of highly explosive material ever discovered in the U.S.
George Jakubec, 54, faces 28 criminal counts, most related to possession of explosives. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, which included two robbery counts connected to incidents on June 25 and July 17.
In a Vista courtroom on Monday, Deputy District Attorney Terri Perez called Jakubec's home a "bomb factory." Nine completed detonators, 13 homemade unfilled grenades and 9-12 pounds of explosive materials were found in the home, according to law enforcement officials. Perez said that was largest quantity of hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD, ever found in one location on U.S. soil.
According to investigators, the bomb-making materials were discovered Nov. 18 after gardener Maria Garcia, 49, was injured while working in the back yard of the home on Via Scott in unincorporated Escondido.
Garcia said he stepped on some gravel and suddenly there was a huge boom. The father of three, who was badly burned on the left side of his body, said afterward that he wasn't sure if he was going to survive the blast.
Outside court Monday Jakubec's wife, Marina Ivanova, said she was at a loss to explain her husband's behavior.
"I don't know; he's crazy," a visibly upset Ivanova said. "I think he lost his mind. He lost his mind or something.... I know that he was collecting, obsessively collecting stuff."
After hearing from both sides, the judge set Jakubec's bail at $5 million. According to our media partners at the North County Times, Jakubec is a naturalized U.S. citizen who may originally be from Serbia. His recent trips to Mexico make him a flight risk, the paper reported.
A local chemistry professor said the explosive materials found inside Jakubec’s home are most commonly used by terrorists to build bombs.
“It is just surprising that someone would have such a large quantity of this chemical in their possession,” said Lauren Benz, USD Chemistry professor.
Benz said HMTD explodes easily.
“Any sort of motion, it's also sensitive to light, light heat and any sort of friction or shock could cause it to detonate,” she said.
Although it's extremely dangerous, Professor Benz says HMTD is relatively easy to make and often found online.
The chemicals are so unstable that authorities are still trying to determine how to remove from them from the Escondido home.