IU student pleads not guilty to bomb-making charge
An Indiana University student is under arrest, accused of trying to make bombs in his bedroom.
The man's roommate called police after finding dangerous chemicals in their off-campus apartment. Police raided the home and arrested 20-year-old Ryder Pickens at his apartment near Memorial Stadium.
It wasn't just the chemicals Pickens' roommates found that had them worried. It was the questions they said Pickens was asking lately about the world and life, often wondering about the difference between right and wrong.
From the outside, it looked like a typical off-campus college apartment complex on East Varsity Lane.
But it's what Bloomington police found inside the basement bedroom of Apartment 428 that led the FBI's Explosive Specialist Unit and National Guard to get involved, leading Ryder Pickens to be charged with trying to build a bomb.
"When you go down to like your roommate's room and you see all these unusual stuff, you have to question what's going on," said Pickens' roommate Jinho Sco.
So that's what Sco and a neighbor did when they found lab equipment, household detergents, a hazmat suit and respirator in Pickens' room.
"I was like, ‘Yo Ryder, what is all of this, all of this stuff?'" Sco said he asked his roommate.
"He said, ‘I'm not breaking any laws,'" Sco remembered of Pickens' response.
"Honestly, I couldn't really recognize what was down there, but these were not normal stuff to have or for an informatics student at the moment," Sco said of Pickens, who was an informatics major.
Sco said Pickens had recently talked about changing his major at IU to chemistry.
"He said he really liked chemistry for some reason," said Sco.
Then, more lab stuff arrived in the mail.
"They were packages, just...they kept on coming," explained Sco.
So Sco and a neighbor called police. That's when investigators found enough chemicals in Pickens bedroom to make explosives.
That's not all they found. When police searched Pickens computer, they found searches for weapons of mass destruction, effects of sarin gas, Agent Blue and chemicals in Agent Orange.
"I saw that stuff and it's not normal, is it?" asked Sco.
Normal or not, Sco doesn't know what to think about his former roommate's activities.
"He was a good kid. I didn't think he was bad at all. I didn't think he would hurt other people," said Sco.
Sco said he couldn't shake the feeling, though, that something was off with Pickens and someone needed to know. He said his roommate had spent time in the hospital prior to Thanksgiving.
"He definitely had a negative outlook on the world, but he was still being nice to other people," said Sco.
Police have not released a motive for Pickens' alleged activities. The 20-year-old is being held in jail right now on a million dollars bond.