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Man arrested after illegal firearms, explosive devices found at his Napa business, officials say

A map of Napa, California, with a label pointing to British Auto Repair of the Napa Valley.
The Napa County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was called to British Auto Repair of the Napa Valley and used its robot to find what officials described as explosive devices.
(Los Angeles Times)

The owner of a Napa, Calif., auto repair shop has been arrested on suspicion of weapons offenses after a search of his home and business turned up five homemade pipe bombs, multiple illegal firearms, more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition and several pounds of gunpowder, authorities said.

It’s too early to tell whether the activity was related to terrorism, said Henry Wofford, public information officer for the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, but the office has contacted the FBI, which has launched a parallel investigation. Several other state and federal agencies are also involved, he said.

“One thing we don’t want to do is cause an unnecessary panic, but at the same time we don’t want to overlook anything that is out there,” Wofford said Sunday. “This investigation is ongoing, which is why we have shared the evidence with other agencies as well.”

Sheriff’s investigators carried out the searches Friday morning after receiving an anonymous tip that Ian Benjamin Rogers, 44, kept illegal guns at his home and business, Wofford said. Of the 50-plus firearms they found, eight to 10 were illegal, including assault weapons and a machine gun, and several more were unregistered, he said.

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Mug shot of Ian Benjamin Rogers.
Ian Benjamin Rogers, 44.
(Napa County Sheriff’s Office)

The pipe bombs were found inside a safe at Rogers’ shop, British Auto Repair of the Napa Valley, at 1630 Action Ave., authorities said. Bomb-making materials were also found inside Rogers’ home, Wofford said.

Rogers was detained Friday morning and interviewed by sheriff’s detectives. He was arrested and booked into jail about 3 p.m. on suspicion of seven felonies and one misdemeanor, including possessing a destructive device and substances to make a destructive device, as well as possessing an assault weapon and machine gun. His bail was set at $5 million, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Wofford declined to say whether Rogers was believed to be politically active or to disclose the nature of the evidence that prompted the Sheriff’s Office to contact federal authorities, citing the need to preserve the integrity of the investigation. The Sheriff’s Office is handling the weapons charges, he said.

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“We’re still talking with him and trying to make other connections as well,” Wofford said. “We don’t discuss tactics. But one thing you can be assured of is we’re going to do a thorough investigation to make sure the community is safe.”


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