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Man admits to placing homemade bombs in suburban Des Moines

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa man accused of making and placing several homemade bombs in suburban Des Moines — including one that was found by an 8-year-old girl — pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges.

Chad Williams, 47, of Johnston, pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing a firearm as an unlawful drug user and making a destructive device, the Des Moines Register reported. Prosecutors dropped a third count of unlawful possession of a destructive device. As part of the deal, Williams agreed to forfeit a handgun and ammunition to the government.

Williams admitted that he planted three homemade explosives along an Ankeny street last year. No one was injured, though two of the devices detonated, causing damage to cars and the street. The third did not explode and was found by a girl who was playing outside her home.

Authorities said Williams made that bomb by filling a plastic bottle with BBs and metal items and taping it to two firework shells, then hid it in a cardboard box. A special agent with the state fire marshal said the bomb “was constructed in a way that it could have possibly gone off and caused some damage.”

Williams’ attorney said in court filings that his client was a Navy veteran who was targeting a man’s truck parked outside his ex-girlfriend’s home because he believed the man had falsely claimed to have served in the military. The ex-girlfriend told investigators that Williams had been sending her “weird” messages since their relationship ended and had once threatened her ex-husband with a gun, the Register reported.

Williams faces up to 10 years in prison on each count when he’s sentenced in May.

Authorities have said Williams is not linked to a pipe bomb that was left outside an Ankeny polling place in March. That bomb was found about 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) away from the bomb found by the 8-year-old girl.