More than a week before two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, 27-year-old Mykyta Panasenko carried two homemade explosives with him on a New Jersey train. Given the attack in Boston on April 15 that killed three people, he was faced with heightened suspicion, but he claims that the explosives were just fireworks. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Mykyta Panasenko Was Charged With Explosives on a NJ Transit Train
According to a criminal complaint, Mykyta Panasenko was charged with having “two destructive devices, specifically improvised explosive devices (IEDs) constructed from a cylinder containing Pyrodex (black powder).” Police learned of the explosives when the man’s roommate saw the devices and told his coworker, reports the New York Daily News. Panasenko was arrested on April 7 when he was found carrying two of the explosives with him on a Suffern, New York-bound NJ Transit train from Hokoken, New Jersey.
2. Police Also Found Explosives in His Home in Jersey City
Panasenko is originally from Kiev, Ukraine, but he currently resides in an apartment building in Jersey City, New Jersey, where police also found explosive devices. According to the charges filed by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port Authority Police Department, he was also charged with “recklessly creating widespread risk of injury or damage to a building which normally contains 25 or more persons by constructing the explosive devices.”
3. He Studied at Rutgers University
According Panasenko’s Linkedin page, he received his Master’s degree in applied mathematics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He lists himself as a mathematician working for High 5 Games, a game developer for the casino industry.
4. Panasenko Says They Were Fireworks
According to the International Business Times, the mathematician insists that the homemade explosives were not meant to do harm, but to be detonated in a safe environment.
“They were fireworks,” he said, “obviously, it was a bad idea.”
After reading his name in the news associated with the words “terrorist” and “bombings,” Panasenko said he was extremely bothered.
“I’m not feeling well,” he said. “After all the stuff I just read about myself online, I almost passed out.”
5. He Was Released
Panasenko appeared in court on Wednesday, but was released on his own recognizance. Investigators said they found no evidence that the bombs were meant to be detonated on the train or in the apartment building.
“There is no indication at this point of the investigation that he intended to detonate a device in his building or on the transit system,” Jersey City cops said in a press release. “Police recovered components of an explosive device at his home, not a completed device. However, the investigation revealed that he did transport completed devices from his home at some point.”