A former high school teacher and his brother were accused on Thursday of stockpiling explosive materials in their apartment and paying students to dismantle fireworks for gunpowder to make bombs.
Federal officials arrested Christian and Tyler Toro, 27, in an early morning raid at their Bronx apartment and uncovered the material, along with notes and a diary referring to a plan called “Operation Code Name Flash.”
They were charged in a federal complaint with unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device. Christian Toro also was charged with distribution of explosive materials to a minor.
The case grew out of a bomb threat called into a school by a student on December 4. Authorities said Christian Toro then resigned, Tyler Toro returned the ex-teacher’s school laptop and a technician found a document about explosives on it.
Students at Christian Toro’s former school told agents that he paid at least two students about $50 an hour between October and January to break up fireworks and store the powder from them.
Agents obtained a warrant and searched the Toros’ apartment on Thursday, finding more than 30 pounds (14 kilograms) of various chemicals used in explosives, a box of firecrackers, a bag of metal spheres that could be used to pack a bomb with damaging projectiles and a diary, the complaint said.
The diary, with Tyler Toro’s name in it, said “Christian arrested” and “If you’re registered as a sex offender, things will be difficult. But I am here 100 percent, living, buying weapons. Whatever we need,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said agents searching the apartment also found a yellow backpack, which contained a purple index card with handwriting that said “under the full moon the small ones will know terror.”
According to court documents, Christian Toro was arrested on January 31, on a third-degree rape charge after allegedly having a series of sexual encounters with a 15-year-old girl in his apartment between September 2017 and January.
The NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counter terrorism and intelligence, John Miller, said the brothers’ motive was unclear. “Neither of them was on our radar before this,” he said.
Miller said the probe into the December 4 bomb threat led to the rape arrest, but would not go into details.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said “What we’re seeing here in this case already is some good people stepped forward with information — and that information was crucial to law enforcement.”
Mayor de Blasio also said “The brave men and women of the NYPD and of the FBI have done extraordinary work and, in this case, likely saved many, many lives.”