Explosives Maker Faces Felony Charges

Posted at: 06/21/2013 10:13 PM
Updated at: 06/21/2013 10:17 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- An explosion nearly killed a man inside his rural Freeborn County home last October, and now, more than 6 months later, that man is facing felony charges.

Ronald Rofshus is charged with unlawful possession of an explosive device and possession of a firearm silencer.

What happened to Rofshus last year shares some similarities to what happened to a man in Fillmore County last weekend.

On Saturday, 47-year-old Jeff Taylor died when he was hit in the stomach by a piece of shrapnel from an exploding target.

The target was being shot at by guests at a party, and it was that exact kind of target that Rofshus was building in his home when it exploded last October, blowing off his hand and causing severe burns.

It was an accident that could now land him in jail.

“The concern in this particular case is not that he intended to use bomb making equipment or other devices to harm others,” said David Walker, the Freeborn County attorney assigned to the case. “But rather that anyone who's using equipment like that is required to report it."

Prosecutors say the law's reporting requirement is a matter of public safety.

“An agency that understands how to deal with this type of equipment and kind of devices can make sure that they're being used safely so that you don't have that kind of explosion,” Walker said.

And with Fourth of July right around the corner, experts said now is the time of year when more and more people start experimenting with fireworks and other dangerous materials.

“The real danger is people think they know what's going on,” said Captain Scott Hanna of the Albert Lea Fire Department. “They watch TV and they believe that's reality, and they start messing with things they don't truly understand."

Given the volatile nature of explosive chemicals, and the very real possibility of accidental ignition, even without a flame, Hanna said the best thing to do is just leave them be.

“It will eventually bite you,” Hanna said. “Even the best guys in the country get hurt so this isn't something to just start into as an amateur."

Rofshus made his first appearance in court on Thursday and his case is set for a jury trial.

A date for his next court appearance has not been set.