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Update: Tulsa man jailed in connection with explosion at Bixby Air Force recruiting center
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Update: Tulsa man jailed in connection with explosion at Bixby Air Force recruiting center

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BIXBY — A 28-year-old Tulsa man was locked up in connection with an explosion less than 24 hours after a bomb was detonated outside an unoccupied Air Force recruitment office late Monday.

Benjamin Roden is on a federal hold in the Tulsa Jail, U.S. Deputy Marshal Jeff Johnston confirmed for the Tulsa World on Tuesday evening. Roden is being held without bond.

The FBI is leading the investigation and made the apprehension in tandem with the Tulsa Police Department. U.S. marshals weren’t involved in the case but do handle transportation of federal prisoners for court dates, Johnston said.

FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents gathered surveillance video Tuesday morning in an effort to identify a suspect and to learn more about the explosive device, FBI spokeswoman Jessi Rice said.

She said agents are looking for more witnesses, adding that “a hit on our military” is considered extremely serious.

“That is a big deal to us,” she said. “This is something we do not take lightly by any means.”

On Tuesday afternoon, investigators detained Roden as a “person of interest” at the Sand Dollar apartment complex near 61st Street and Riverside Drive in south Tulsa.

The FBI declined to identify that person of interest, but Johnston said Roden is the man. Records show that he has an address that appears to be at the Sand Dollar.

The explosive device, a pipe bomb, was detonated about 10:30 p.m. Monday at an Air Force recruiting center in Post Rock Plaza near 104th Street and Memorial Drive in Bixby.

Was it terrorism? Federal agents are considering whether the bombing was an incident of domestic terrorism. However, Rice said federal agents had reached “no conclusion” on the intent and weren’t calling it an act of domestic terrorism.

“We … don’t know the motive behind it,” Rice said during a media briefing shortly after noon, before Roden was arrested. “So at this point we don’t know if it was a disgruntled employee, an act of domestic terrorism or just someone playing games, so we’re treating it as strictly a criminal investigation with an explosive device.”

Bixby and Tulsa police responded to the explosion. The FBI, assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is heading the investigation.

Rice said the FBI will determine whether the act was domestic terrorism, which she defined as “any act of extremism that supports a religious belief, a political belief, a radical belief, … something that instills fear in the American citizens and the government.”

Rice said federal charges will depend on the results of the investigation.

“Potentially, we’re looking at weapons of mass destruction charges, explosive devices charges,” she said, “so it depends on what route it goes, whether it’s terrorism or criminal related. That will determine what kind of charges will be pressed.”

Special agents also are investigating whether a connection exists between an incident of vandalism at another recruitment office within walking distance of the bomb site.

“It’s suspicious,” Rice said. “There’s no known connection, but it’s quite ironic that that happened.”

The arrest: Two Tulsa Police Department Bomb Squad robots were visible from Riverside Drive at the Sand Dollar apartments in south Tulsa on Tuesday afternoon. A large section of the complex was cordoned off. A Tulsa police spokesman said authorities had no reason to think a live device was at the complex but were taking precautions.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Kathryn Peterson told reporters during a 5 p.m. news conference near the complex that the person of interest was detained without incident, but she declined to release more information.

“We are currently processing a scene at this apartment complex,” she said. “We’re taking every precaution to make sure that the residents of the apartment complex are safe.

“We don’t have any reason to think that the population at large is at any further risk, although we’re taking every precaution to ensure that.”

The crime scene: In Bixby, crime-scene tape roped off the parking lot and area around the Air Force recruiting office and neighboring businesses throughout Monday night.

When asked about the incident occurring so late, when no people were around and businesses were closed, Rice said: “It’s a little bit comforting that they didn’t want to kill anyone, obviously; they would have done it in broad daylight if that were the case.”

One of two front doors was off its hinges and lying in a parking spot Tuesday morning. Airmen boarded up the opening about 7 a.m. Tuesday, and a glass company replaced the door before noon.

A black blast pattern marked the ground and bottom of the remaining door, and an LED light ballast dangled from its wires on the building facade.

The bomb pierced the canopy over the front of the recruitment office.

The amount of damage inside the building wasn’t apparent.

Those with information about the bombing may contact the FBI’s Oklahoma City office at 405-290-7770.

Corey Jones

918-581-8359

corey.jones@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @JonesingToWrite

Samantha Vicent

918-581-8321

samantha.vicent@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @samanthavicent

​Harrison Grimwood

918-581-8369

harrison.grimwood@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @grimwood_hmg

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Staff Writer

I am a general assignment reporter who predominately writes about public health, public safety and justice reform. I'm in journalism to help make this community, state, country and, ultimately, world a better place.

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