A Florida man who is a former employee of The Creation Museum and a former Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested in Mississippi earlier this week after local law enforcement received a tip about a suspicious package, labeled “C-4 explosive” at his home.
Joel Ryals was training police dogs (something he’s apparently not certified to do) when he was arrested. Ryals has worn many hats over the years. In addition to the museum job, he was a former Kentucky police officer as well as a former member of the National Guard in Wyoming and Florida.
The package was apparently discovered by Ryals’ wife, who called the police. Upon arrival, detectives issued a search warrant.
“A scorned woman is never a good thing,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “I know they had domestic issues, and as a result of her being angry, she called us.”
When detectives searched the home, they made a shocking discovery. Not only was there a sizeable cache of firearms, firearms silencers, and a fully automatic rifle; there were also military-grade explosives.
“In the wrong hands, we could have had a big bomb in a location with lots of people,” Judd said. “You can’t believe this stuff. You just can’t believe it.”
While Ryals has a law enforcement and military background, he doesn’t have the necessary qualifications to train police K-9’s and doesn’t have a license to own military-grade explosives.
“Joe Ryals has a checkered law enforcement past, however, there is absolutely no reason for him to have this equipment,” Judd said. “The military-grade explosives, materials to build bombs, and tactical equipment found in his possession are extremely dangerous. Although he posed no immediate threat to our community, he certainly could have used them for the wrong reasons.”
So what did deputies find?
For starters, a 1.25lb block of C-4 explosive, the fully automatic rifle and silencers and:
- 14 explosives — including a Military Time Fuse, a Ground Burst Simulator, booby trap flares, C-4, and a signal flare.
- 27 firearms including handguns, shotguns, AR style rifles and an inline muzzleloader.
- Weapon optics.
- Military radio communication equipment.
But even with all this equipment, Judd said he didn’t show any violent tendencies.
“He seems to be the kind of guy that was a doomsday prepper that was collecting this stuff,” the sheriff said. “He has not shown any proclivity to be violent, but if that changed, he would have all of the hardware to have bombs, a major, major event. Or someone break into his house and have all of this horrible equipment.”
Ryals was a public safety officer with the museum’s Public Safety Department from June 2015 until January 2017, when he was let go, said a museum spokesperson.
While there was no other evidence of any intended attacks, the combination of fundamentalist religious beliefs with this type of arsenal fits the profile of too many terrorists.
Featured image courtesy of Fox13