Convicted felon accused of having pipe bombs at south Charlotte apartment

CHARLOTTE — A convicted felon is accused of having pipe bombs at a south Charlotte apartment complex, causing bomb squad officers to swarm the area. Court documents show he was threatening to use those bombs in York County.

Channel 9’s crime reporter Hunter Sáenz learned that police arrested 50-year-old Derek Johnson twice in a week. According to Mecklenburg County jail records, he was arrested last Wednesday and Friday and charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, among other charges.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told Sáenz they’re leading this investigation, but wouldn’t elaborate with further details.

Bomb squad members descended last Thursday on Johnson’s apartment at The Landing at Farmhurst just off Nations Ford Road. According to arrest warrants Sáenz obtained, authorities found pipe bombs and a pistol.

A man shared video he shot of law enforcement arriving at Johnson’s apartment. He was too frightened to show his face or share his name.

“It’s scary for everybody around -- the kids, the community,” he said. “Who knows what else could be going on there.”

He didn’t know Johnson and said he’s never seen him around the complex outside his apartment. He said over the course of nine hours, authorities made everyone close by go back inside their homes three different times as they took things out of the apartment. The man, who is father of two, is just worried about what could have happened.

“They could have gone off at any moment,” he said. “They could have blown up the whole place.”

Court documents show Johnson is wanted in York County, South Carolina, for making a terroristic bomb threat last Wednesday. It’s not yet clear what the target of the threat was, but we do know the feds are involved.

York County authorities have formally asked for Johnson to be extradited across state lines to face charges there, although it’s unclear when that may happen.

“That’s scary. I’ve never seen something like that,” the neighbor said.

Derek Johnson is still at the Mecklenburg County jail being held on a $1 million bond.

Johnson is a convicted felon already; in 1993, he was found guilty of a burglary in New Jersey.

(WATCH BELOW: Man gets probation for planting pipe bombs at church)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.

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