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3 face charges for March mailbox bombings in Olmsted County

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

A series of Rochester mailbox bombings in March has resulted in criminal charges against three young Rochester men.

Joshua Jon Carlson, 19, 2519 11th Ave. N.W., Alex Leigh Niess, 18, 4751 Harvest Court N.W. and James Duane Osmonson, 19, 4751 Harvest Court N.W., will make their first appearance in Olmsted District Court on July 23.

Each is charged with six felony counts stemming from a series of mailbox bombings between March 14 and March 20. The charges are use of explosive/incendiary devices with intent to damage property, and five counts of gross disregard of life and property. A conviction on those charges would carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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According to the criminal complaints, the first bombing was reported March 14. A mailbox was blown up in the 4000 block of Third Street Northwest. Officers found remnants of a device called a "McGyver" or "Works" bomb, the complaint said. Tinfoil balls and a plastic pop bottle were ripped to shreds on the ground. A McGyver/Works bomb is a homemade device constructed of household items that can create a small explosion, the complaint said. They consist of tinfoil and a caustic material such as a bathroom cleaner or clog remover.

That same day, police got a call about an incident in the 900 block of 33rd Street Northwest. A witness reporting seeing two males shake something and put it in a mailbox. A short time later, the mailbox exploded. Police were given a description of the vehicle by the witness.

A third call on March 14 was about an incident in the 4000 block of Third Street Northwest. A plastic bottle filled with tinfoil balls was on the sidewalk in front of the home. Police said it was a "McGyver" bomb.

On March 20, police were sent to the 400 block of Forbrook Lane Northwest about damage to a mailbox. Again, officers found remnants of a crude bottle bomb, which had been placed inside the mailbox.

On March 21, police were called to the 700 block of 31st Street Northwest about another mailbox bombing. An exploded pop bottle was found inside the mailbox, and liquid had sprayed all over the inside of the mailbox.

On March 21, officers took a report from a witness who said she might have seen the suspect vehicle responsible for the mailbox bombings in the neighborhood. She gave a detailed description of the vehicle.

On March 28, police were sent to another northwest residence about reports of a car window being shot out. A vehicle matching the description given in the mail bombings was seen leaving the scene. That witness obtained a license plate number. Officers located the vehicle and stopped it. Niess, Carlson and Osmonson were in the car. Niess told officers a BB gun was thrown out the window after they saw police.

The complaint said all three had admitted they were responsible for several mailbox bombings. Some were in the Country Club Manor area and some were near John Adams Middle School.

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Carlson said he was involved in making the bombs and admitted placing at least one in the mailbox. Osmonson said he also was responsible for making the bombs in the van and said he put at least one or two in mailboxes, the complaints said.

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