EVERETT, Wash. – A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy blocks the street where 43-year-old Thanh Cong Phan lives off a dead-end road near the intersection of the 300 block of 117th Street Southeast.
“Oh, wow, this is crazy,” said neighbor Katie Dwan.
It’s taking Dwan a minute to take in the hours-long active FBI investigation just across the street from her home.
Phan was in federal court in Seattle Tuesday, accused of packaging "explosive materials" and sending them to military and government locations in the Washington, D.C., area.
Phan has been under FBI investigation before for sending letters to law enforcement and repeatedly calling 911.
Back then, “We didn’t find any information that would suggest a violation of law. We didn’t find anything that would suggest any specific, physical, credible threat,” said Ayn Dietrich-Williams, public affairs officer for the FBI's Seattle field office.
The FBI says on March 16, Phan allegedly sent his first package from Mill Creek to Washington, D.C. Inside the package, along with a black powder and a fuse, was another one what the FBI believes was a letter written by Phan.
“Most of it was rambling, incoherent language, including comments like mentioning synthetic telepathy and neuroscience terrorism, and a lot of it was a free flowing of words,” said Dietrich-Williams.
The FBI says all the packages are pretty much the same. Inside they found letters, and glass vial full of a black powder with a fuse. If lit, the glass would shatter, injuring anyone nearby, the FBI said.
“It’s pretty intimidating to hear that someone is actually making bombs and mailing them to D.C. and its right down the street from me,” said neighbor Greg Moody.
Moody lives near the dead-end street where investigators were searching Phan’s house Tuesday for possible explosives and booby traps.
“In James Bond plots in a lot of movies … you never really expect to interface with that in real life,” said Moody.
That movie plot is now playing out in this residential area with single-family homes, townhouses, and an apartment complex nearby.
“What if a bomb did go off? How far would it go? It would have exploded all of that stuff and then probably our house. And then there’s an elementary school really close. There’s a high school really close,” said Dwan.
That’s why Katie says if there’s smoke there’s fire and wants to know why the FBI didn’t do more.
“They should’ve done something,” said Dwan.
For safety reasons, FBI investigators stopped their search for explosives and combing for evidence once darkness fell. The search will continue Wednesday morning.
Investigators are also trying to figure out a motive and why Phan allegedly targeted government locations in Washington, D.C.