Michael C. O’Neill, the Wheatfield man who lost part of his leg in an explosion at his home, now admits he owned an explosive device.
O'Neill's admission, part of a guilty plea in federal court in Rochester to unlawful possession of a destructive device, came two years after the explosion at 6761 Walmore Road, and a subsequent police search that found evidence of a pipe bomb.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins said the evidence against O'Neill included six destructive devices, five of which had sealed ends and fuses. One of them was labeled, "Powder w/Nails." Higgins said the police search also uncovered two pill bottles labeled as flash powder and 36 shotgun shells reloaded with fragments.
Following the explosion on July 21, 2015, O’Neill was taken by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, where his left leg was amputated.
O’Neill reportedly initially told investigators that the devices he was making were intended to remove tree stumps. He also told them that one of the devices ignited while he was using a heat gun and exploded when he tried to stomp it out with his foot.
O'Neill, 45, will face 30 months in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 11 by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.
His guilty plea is the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department.