Explosives discovered after Mahopac survivalist’s death; tank in yard


MAHOPAC — Police investigating a survivalist’s shotgun death at his Mahopac home found grenades, tracer rounds, gunpowder, blasting caps, military ordnance and a large number of automatic weapons and ammunition, Carmel police said.

Jonathan Orser, 41, a former Marine, also had a full-size Army tank in the backyard of his home at 303 E. Lake Blvd., Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson said. The tank has rubber wheels and its gun barrel is plugged.

The tank is legal, Johnson said, but many of the weapons and explosives police removed from the house were not.

Johnson said that among the items police removed were “over 100 firearms, rifles and shotguns, 15,000 to 20,000 rounds of ammunition, buckets of black (gun) powder, hand grenades” and military ordnance. Some of the rifles were automatic, he said.

The discovery of the explosives prompted evacuations in the neighborhood and calls to the Westchester County Bomb Squad, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and an Army ordnance unit from Fort Drum.

Camouflaged, helmeted soldiers could be seen Friday morning removing items from a basement window of the large two-story, ranch style home with light-colored brick facing.

Orser was cleaning weapons before going to a gun show in Rockland County and shot himself in the chest, Johnson said. Police have not determined if it was an accident or intentional but do not consider it suspicious, the chief said. They are awaiting a coroner’s report.

Orser’s wife found him dead about 11:35 p.m. Tuesday in their home, police said. She had returned from a social engagement.

“He cleans the guns and polishes them up (before the show),” Johnson said. “He was found on the floor, surrounded by rifles and shotguns.”

Investigators questioning Orser’s friends learned that Orser, a plumber and heating, ventilating and air-conditioning contractor, was a gun aficionado and survivalist who might have automatic weapons in the house. As they arrived to remove those, they discovered Orser also had explosives and munitions.

“He is a survivalist. He deals with guns, he goes to gun shows,” Johnson said. “He supposedly was a firearms expert and a safety instructor also.”

The ATF and the Westchester County Bomb Squad were called in about 6 p.m. Thursday. Items discovered included tracer rounds, black gunpowder — Orser made his own bullets — six improvised grenades, 300 rounds of 20mm projectiles for a machine gun and 23 military mechanical time fuses, Johnson said.

Police also found blasting caps, which Johnson said are fragile and “could have caused the whole house to go up and maybe surrounding houses.”

Nearby homes were evacuated and East Lake Boulevard closed to traffic Thursday night while the explosives and weapons were being removed. At least some residents were allowed back home.

At the suggestion of the Westchester County Bomb Squad, the 725th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit based in Fort Drum, N.Y., was requested and arrived at 5 a.m. Friday to remove the ordnance. The explosives will be transported to West Point for disposal.

Police will receive assistance from ATF agents in checking each weapon to make sure none was stolen or used in a crime. Johnson said he did not know if Orser had permits for any of the guns.

Police expected to be on the scene until mid- to-late afternoon. Sections of East Lake and North Lake boulevards remained closed near the home. Carmel police asked News 12 to move its hovering chopper from the area because they feared the vibrations might set off the ordnance.

ATF spokesman Charles Mulham told The Journal News Friday: “We’re there in an assist mode. It’s not a federal investigation at this point.”


6 thoughts on “Explosives discovered after Mahopac survivalist’s death; tank in yard

  1. Aw hell, they found over 60 lbs of high explosives last week in a shed that some one bought in Birchwood, Wi. LOL yea people are stocking up on ammo and high explosives and other such related item all around this counry. By the way – Birchwood is a nice high buck resort type of town that is maybe 5 maybe 6 hundred residents there. Yea, these explosives were right off of main street Birchwood.

  2. 20 years back, the police would ask why you have so many explosives and weapons…. if you didn’t have permits for the explosives, you might lose them and need to appear in court.
    They would come to the house and pick it all up.

    Now, they evacuate large areas surrounding the area to make it look like a terrorist lived there and they had tons of explosives.

    This is all just messed up.

    1. Hahahaha That’s my hometown. I lived very close to W Lake Blvd. I would have never thought anyone would have great stuff like that, although we use to have a lot of fun on the 4th of July. We would blow off fireworks, and I mean REAL fireworks, (not this sparkler crap they have nowadays), I mean ash cans, M-80’s 1/4 sticks, arial bombs, skyrockets, etc all weekend long! It’s a damm shame we can’t celebrate what little freedoms we have left anymore because some jackass lost a finger from fireworks. It’s survival of the fittest, if you’re not smart enough to to blow off you finger, don’t blame me, I still have all 10 fingers.

      HAPPY 4TH TO ALL!!

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