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AZ man arrested in chlorine gas attack

Tucson, AZ

A Tucson, AZ man was arrested and charged on May 13 for making and using chlorine gas bombs that forced the evacuation of a neighborhood in the city in 2009.

A federal grand jury on May 13 indicted Todd Fries, also known as Todd Burns, for allegedly producing and using chemical weapons. He was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and is in jail pending a federal court appearance, according to an FBI statement.

The charges stem from a 2009 incident in Tucson where gas bombs were set off near a couple’s home on the northwest side of the city. FBI agents said at the time of the attack that the couple had been targeted before and had moved to the location of the 2009 attack after a previous incident. The FBI had said at the time of the 2009 attack it might have been a hate-crime, as insults were painted on the outside of the house along with gang references.

The indictment against Fries alleges that on August 2, 2009, he placed chemical devices in the front and back yard of the couple’s house. The devices, when ignited, “produced a football field-sized cloud of chlorine gas that hovered over the neighborhood and resulted in the evacuation of numerous families in the area,” said the FBI.

“This defendant developed and executed a chlorine gas attack that impacted an entire neighborhood and had the potential to cause tremendous harm and fear,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke. “I commend our partners at the FBI for their diligence on this case, and we expect justice to be served.”

“Today’s indictment and arrest of Todd Fries illustrates the commitment by the FBI to protect the public from those who allegedly possess and use chemical weapons,” said Robert Rudge, FBI acting special agent in charge of the bureau’s Phoenix Division,. “Whenever a person chooses to use dangerous chemicals as a weapon, it puts the entire community at risk,” he said.

Fries faces a prison sentence, a $250,000 fine or both, if convicted of the charges, said the bureau. Specific sentencing would be determined by the District Court Judge who presides over the case, said the FBI, however, the judge is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.