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Authorities: Business owner had huge cache of weapons and ammunition

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Posted: Jan 17, 2021 10:14 AM

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    NAPA, California (Napa Valley Register) -- The Napa business owner arrested on Friday on various weapons charges had five pipe bombs, more than 50 firearms -- several unregistered or illegal -- 15,000 rounds of ammunition, and several pounds of gunpowder in his possession when authorities raided his office and home, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office said late Saturday.

Ian Benjamin Rogers, 44, is in custody facing a variety of charges, including possession of a destructive device, possession of materials to make a destructive device, possession of an assault weapon, possession of an unregistered assault weapon, possession of a machine gun and conversion of a firearm into a machine gun.

Bail was originally set at $100,000, but was raised to $5 million on Friday.

The sheriff’s office did not confirm whether the raid at the business, British Auto Repair of the Napa Valley, located on Action Avenue, was connected to planned protests by extremists at state capitols across the country in advance of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday. The investigation is continuing and both state and federal officials are involved, the sheriff’s office said.

"This is a case still under investigation," said Napa Sheriff spokesperson Henry Wofford shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday. "Obviously, when you have a $5 million bond, you have something serious," he said.

Law enforcement across the county is on high alert after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to prevent the counting of the Electoral College votes in favor of Biden. Law enforcement agencies report that extremist groups are planning additional protests nationwide over the next week.

Authorities obtained a warrant to search Rogers’ business and home after receiving a tip that he was in possession of illegal weapons, the sheriff’s office said.

Officers brought multiple objects out of the business over several hours on Friday and detonated them in a bunker created from old tires.

The bomb squad blocked the driveway to British Auto Repair and closed off a section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which runs behind the business, with "crime scene" tape until the last detonation occurred.

While the business was searched and small detonations were set off, traffic was allowed to pass normally on the two closest streets, Action Avenue and Vallejo Street.

At the Napa Valley Register, which backs up against the Vine Trail, opposite British Auto Repair, employees were told to stay on the newspaper property. A small group gathered on a stairway facing Vallejo Street to watch a silver robot moving back and forth.

Most of the detonations created small pops, but the last one at 1 p.m. produced a big bang.

Rogers’ social media accounts suggest that he is an ardent supporter of President Trump, dating back to the Republican primary season in 2015 and 2016. In multiple postings, he expresses disdain for Democrats and liberals. Photos on his Facebook account also feature multiple weapons, including guns and swords, displayed on the walls of his home.

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