Police have identified two suspects arrested in connection with the discovery of two homemade bombs as well as a rifle found Tuesday inside a car parked behind Goldfield’s courthouse.
Bobby McAnally, 32, and Rebecca Leavitt, 28, were arrested after a search of their vehicle revealed two explosive devices inside a backpack in the trunk of the car. One device reportedly exploded as federal authorities were later removing it with a robot, shattering more than two dozen windows in the historic building.
Esmeralda County Sheriff Kenneth Elgan said the devices were discovered after Leavitt and McAnally stopped at his office to report a dispute between themselves and the occupants of another vehicle that started in Tonopah early Tuesday morning.
Elgan said a deputy decided to search the car McAnally and Leavitt were in after hearing of the altercation, finding the explosives and rifle.
“It originated up in Tonopah, there was a dispute between the occupants of two vehicles,” the sheriff said. “The suspects with the bomb went south out of Tonopah on U.S. 95 and came to the Esmeralda County Sheriff’s office and parked their car in the parking lot and the female came into the sheriff’s office to file a complaint or statement about the incident in Tonopah. We had a report that shots were fired so when my deputy arrived the male was in the vehicle in our parking lot; he approached and secured the individual and searched the vehicle for the weapon involved and found the bombs in the trunk in a backpack. There were two separate bombs in the same backpack.”
Elgan didn’t wish to identify the people involved in the Tonopah incident. But the Pahrump Valley Times learned Wednesday that two men, Anthony “Butch” Stone and his brother Nick Stone, were involved in the earlier incident.
Anthony said he and his brother were driving in Tonopah at about 6 a.m. when they spotted McAnally and Leavitt. Anthony said McAnally was suspected of stealing a number of items from his family over the past several months and wanted to confront him about the thefts.
“I was stopping in the road hoping to get them stopped. I got down to about 20 (mph) and they went around me on the left. I looked over my shoulder and I saw the barrel of a gun. I hit the brakes. Right when I hit the brakes, it fired. It barely missed me,” Anthony said.
He identified Leavitt to police as the person who fired the gun.
He said after the rifle was fired he and his brother followed McAnally and Leavitt into Esmeralda County. He said he called police to report the shooting and also because he believed Leavitt was doing the same.
“She hung out of the window and said, ‘I’m on the phone with the cops right now.’ So for our own protection, we didn’t want them to get away and go hide the gun. They called the cops and told them that we had shotguns, which we did not have. So we called dispatch to tell them that the person who just called had shot at us,” Anthony said.
Anthony’s father, Jack Stone, is a Darwin, Calif., miner with property in Tonopah and Silver Peak. He confirmed his son’s story Wednesday, adding that McAnally is suspected of stealing a variety of expensive mining equipment.
“My two boys tried to talk to Bobby about returning – he broke into our yard down in Silver Peak. He stole a bunch of mine rescue equipment. He broke into a horse trailer we had at my yard in Tonopah. And he stole several Victor cutting torches and gauges. He stole a bunch of drill bits, stuff that cost a couple hundred bucks a piece,” he said.
Asked whether McAnally could have made off with any dynamite used in the mining business, Jack said he believed the explosives were stolen from another mining operation, not his. Efforts to contact the owner of the outfit Jack identified were not successful.
As of Wednesday afternoon there was no bail set for either McAnally or Leavitt. Elgan said his office was working on filing state charges against them in the case. The sheriff also noted the two are facing possible federal charges in the matter as well.
After the devices were discovered, Elgan said members of the FBI Las Vegas Division, the Las Vegas Fire Rescue Bomb Squad response team, the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Nevada Department of Transportation responded to Goldfield to help with traffic control and to safely dispose of the devices.
FBI spokesperson Bridget Pappas said in a statement that the devices were detonated during the agency’s render-safe process Tuesday and that the incident has no known nexus with terrorism.
The FBI Las Vegas division has reportedly take over as the lead investigating agency in the case, but Pappas said the agency will continue to work with other federal, state and local partners, including Esmeralda County Sheriff’s office throughout the investigation.
Though there were no injuries to report from the incident, windows in the back of the courthouse and sheriff’s office near where the car was parked were reportedly damaged.
Elgan said although the windows were broken with the force of the blast, there was no other damage to report from the incident.
The county’s inmates, including Leavitt and McAnally, are currently being housed in the Nye County Detention Center in Tonopah while repairs are made to their jail following the blast.
A mandatory evacuation of a 1,500 foot area surrounding the suspect vehicle was lifted Tuesday evening around 8 p.m. U.S. 95, which was closed for several hours, was also reopened to traffic.