The man, 41-year-old Shannon Patrick Lemon of Zimmerman, was the subject of a traffic stop near the intersection of Highway 169 and Highway 23 on Tuesday, July 17.
Lemon told investigating officers that he was headed to Elk River from the Pine Center area for a meeting with his probation officer when he was stopped. While he was being questioned, a K-9 officer was called for a consent search of Lemon’s vehicle.
Inside Lemon’s vehicle, deputies discovered the explosive device, according to Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren.
Lemon confirmed the device was a bomb made with nails, gun powder, kerosene and a 12-volt cigarette-lighter attachment that would have detonated the device. Lemon was taken into custody at about 10 a.m. and the businesses at the Milaca Junction and Maple Ridge Mall were evacuated. Parts of Highway 23, Highway 169 and the roads leading to the commercial area were closed. The Crow Wing County Bomb Squad was called to neutralize the device, Lindgren said. The bomb was detonated and evidence has been collected that was needed to pursue criminal charges, he said. Traffic opened again at about 3 p.m., Lindgren said.
Not the first contact with Lemon
The Milaca traffic stop wasn’t the first time Mille Lacs deputies had contact with Lemon that day.
Earlier in the day, a deputy stopped Lemon outside of Onamia and issued the man a warning for speeding.
During the stop, the deputy observed that Lemon showed “unusual emotion,” Lindgren said. Specifically, Lemon was nervous and angry. A propane cylinder in Lemon’s vehicle also appeared suspicious, the sheriff said. He made references to the Latin Kings street gang and the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. He also mentioned that his girlfriend was cheating on him and had an affair with his best friend, according to a criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District court.
The deputy contacted North Central Drug Task Force agents who initiated surveillance on the vehicle as it went south on Highway 169. While under surveillance, Lemon made a stop at the wayside rest south of Onamia. From there he turned onto 250th Street and into the driveway of a known drug house, the complaint states. He was at the drug house for a short period of time, reports state.
After leaving the drug house, Lemon headed south on Highway 169. At the Highway 23 exit he allegedly made an “indecisive turning decision” which resulted in officers conducting a second traffic stop on Highway 23, north of the Holiday station, at about 10 a.m.
Lindgren said Lemon’s motive appears to be to attempt suicide by utilizing the L.P. gas and the explosive device with detonator in the vehicle. Lindgren said he did not know where Lemon intended to detonate the bomb.
Drugs in the vehicle
When Lemon was pulled over in Milaca, deputies observed a small, round cylinder in the center of the dashboard area. A second small cylinder was hanging from the dashboard, complaints state. Deputies believed the cylinders were used to transport controlled substances. Lemon allegedly showed mannerisms of being under the influence. A canine officer was called to the scene. The dog indicated there were controlled substances in three separate areas of the vehicle.
The explosive device
Investigating deputies found a tin can in Lemon’s vehicle that had the lid taped shut. One of the deputies shook the can in an attempt to learn what was in it.
Something didn’t seem right, one deputy wrote in his report.
A deputy observed wires coming out of the can. He asked Lemon what the device was and he allegedly replied that it was fireworks. He later said it was a bomb with kerosene, nails and gun powder. The deputy gently set the device down and called for assistance.
The Crow Wing County Bomb Squad was called to the scene from its home base in Brainerd. The complaint states that the bomb squad detonated the device, causing “nails to scatter all over the place,” the complaint states. The bomb squad determined that the device was a viable bomb.
The device was made from a large tin with a smaller tin inside that contained the kerosene and nails. Another smaller tin contained what authorities believed to be gun powder.
Also located in Lemon’s vehicle was a shotgun shell with a weight taped to one end of the shell.
If the shell were to be thrown, the weight would case the shell to land in such a way that it would explode, the complaint states.
Lemon told investigators that he made the device three years ago. He also made an electronic device that was designed to be plugged into a vehicle’s cigarette lighter and used to detonate his bomb.
He said he originally made the device because people were messing around with his vehicle, the complaint states. He constructed it in such a manner that it would detonate if someone opened his car door, the complaint states.
Three days prior to his arrest, he put the devices in his vehicle because he planned to commit suicide, the complaint quotes Lemon as telling investigators.
Lemon allegedly told investigators that he put the propane tank in the front seat of his vehicle because he was planning on turning its valve wide open so the gas would fill up the vehicle before he detonated the device, in order to create an even bigger explosion.
During a July 19 interview, Lemon allegedly revealed to investigators that he had put the device together in his garage. Investigators received and executed a search warrant of Lemon’s Zimmerman residence.
In Lemon’s garage, investigators found tape similar to that used on the bomb device as well as medical tape matching that used to attach the weight to the shotgun shell.
Investigators also found that there was a propane tank missing from the barbecue grill in Lemon’s yard.
Lemon has 16 convictions, dating back to 1990, including domestic assault, second degree assault and burglary. His most recent conviction was in October 2010, when he pled guilty to felony domestic assault in connection with a Sherburne County incident. Lemon remains in custody in the Mille Lacs County Jail where he is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond.