Last Updated: Saturday, April 15, 6:11 p.m.
Update, April 15, 3:55 p.m.–Michael Philip Blum, a 45-year-old resident of 18 Felter Lane, was arrested in connection with the explosion in a swale at Fernwood Lane and Fleetwood Drive in Palm Coast Friday afternoon, a short distance from Blum’s house. Authorities now believe the explosion was from a remotely set-off “firework mortar of some kind.”
Blum was found to be in his van some 78 feet rom the explosion site when the device was set off, thanks to authorities collecting dash cams and doorbell cameras. “It is believed that the onboard crash detection system within the cameras was activated either by the noise, or force of the detonation,” Blum’s arrest report states, in reference to some of the surveillance footage collected. “While the video did not capture the suspect vehicle, it did show the smoke from the blast coming from the culvert.” The description suggests the blast was of a significant force.
The number and quality of surveillance video clips from different locations helped authorities reconstruct the itinerary of the van and ensure its identity. That done, a sheriff’s commander called Blum on his cell phone. Blum agreed to meet with in the Staples parking lot, shortly after midnight. He confirmed being at the wheel of the van. He said he’d been conducting arrands and working on a plumbing job in the R Section, before meeting someone at his home in late morning. He said he was in St. Augustine at the time of the explosion.
When confronted with the documented timeline showing the van was in the area of the explosion when the device was set off, Blum said: “it was a mortar.” Blum, according to his arrest report, said it was only the mortar and no additional charge or tube was used. When asked how he primed it, “Blum stated he used a cigarette as a time delay for the fuse. Blum stated he was ‘testing’ the mortar due to it being wet and he ‘wasn’t sure if it would go off.” He did not explain why he set off the device. He then hid the vehicle at the condos.
Blum was booked at the Flagler County jail early this morning on a felony charge of making, possessing or throwing or discharging a destructive device, a felony. He was also charged with violating his probation.
Blum’s arrest report details what the explosive device he allegedly set off on Friday looked like: “After the scene was secured and no other devices were found, [St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office] Bomb Squad provided a description of the destructive device. The initiator appeared to be a radio transmitted, remote electric match used in commercial fireworks displays. This is believed to be paired with a remote switch which would allow the device to be set off from afar. The main charge, based on the paper recovered from the scene, appeared to be a firework mortar of some kind. However, due to the device being detonated, and inclement weather, additional forensic evaluations will need to be done in a lab setting to gain further specific details on the device and its components. SJSO Bomb Squad turned the device over to DFC. Hartley and his trainee, who placed it into FCSO evidence.”
Last February, facing up to 10 years in prison on charges of carrying a gun without a permit and a drug charge, he pleaded and was sentenced to three years on drug-offender probation. One of the conditions barred him from possessing any weapons. He had originally faced a burglary charge as well. That charge was dropped.
The person who reported the alleged burglary in the house next door September 2021 reported to police that she heard a lot of noise and saw a white cargo van and two men outside the van. Witnesses who reported the explosion or suspicious activity in the F Section on Friday reported seeing a white van–with the tag of 02AMMF–which was later found parked in front of one of the buildings of the Palm Club Condominiums. Deputies and a bomb squad searched the van there today.
“Detectives from FCSO’s Homeland Security Section’s Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) served a search warrant on the suspect’s vehicle with assistance from the SJCSO Bomb Squad and FCSO’s CSI Unit,” a sheriff’s release stated this afternoon. “After the vehicle was rendered safe, additional evidence was located linking Blum to the homemade explosive device. At this time, there is no known motive as to why Blum set off the explosive device. FCSO has responded to Blum’s home over 25 times, mainly in reference to fireworks complaints.” Sheriff Rick Staly called Blum “a wannabe bomber.”
In the September 2021 incident, the two men attempted to burglarize the house on Collingwood Lane, but failed. Blum was at the wheel of the white van when deputies stopped him shortly afterward. He was found in possession of fentanyl. A loaded handgun was also located in the van, with eight rounds of ammunition. Blum’s concealed carry permit had expired. (The Legislature last month approved a bill eliminating the requirement for concealed carry permits.)
Blum has already violated his probation once before, when he failed a urine sample: he tested positive for THC. In mid-December, he was cited for driving the same 2017 white Chevy cargo van on a suspended license. The charge was dropped.
The earlier update from today is below.
Bomb Squad Searches Unit at Palm Club Condominiums in Connection With Suspicious Explosion
>Update, Saturday, April 15, 1 p.m.—Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were serving a search warrant at 50 Club House Drive–the Palm Club Condominiums–and evacuating some of the units nearest to the one being searched there in connection with Friday’s reports of a suspicious package and small explosion in Palm Coast’s F Section.
A sighting of a van matching the description witnesses gave police on Friday led to the Club House Drive address. The van was parked there. The search warrant was being executed by members of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office’s Explosive Disposal Unit this morning between 10:30 and 11 a.m.
The development follows the gathering of several video surveillance clips from houses and other locations around the intersection of Fernwood Lane and Fleetwood Drive, where the explosive device–if that’s what it was–went off.
A Flagler County Fire Rescue unit and a fire engine were standing by near the condo units, as a precautionary measure.
Yesterday’s article is below.
‘Suspicious Package’ and Reports of Small Explosion in F-Section Swale Calls Out Bomb Squad
April 14–The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a suspicious package, and possibly a small explosion, in a swale in the area of Fernwood Lane and Fleetwood Drive in Palm Coast. The device may have gone off between 1:30 and 2 p.m.
The area was the subject of a heavy police presence from 2 to 5:30 p.m., when all roads were reopened. Then investigation continues, Sheriff Rick Staly said.
The Sheriff’s Office called in the bomb squad from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to assist, as the squad generally does when suspicious packages are reported.
Whatever it is, the device caused some smoke to emerge from a swale drain. There was no damage or any injuries. The location is a block away from Florida Park Drive in the F Section. Some witnesses reported seeing suspicious activity involving a white van around the time of the incident.
Roadblocks had been set up at Fleetwood Drive and Florida Park Drive, and at Fleetwood and Fischer Lane.
Authorities were canvassing the area for surveillance video footage from homes and nearby organizations. The incident caused a heavy presence of sheriff’s deputies in the area, and a request from the Sheriff’s Office to avoid the neighborhood.
“It’s still an active investigation we are waiting or the Saint Johns County Office’s Explosive Disposal unit to arrive,” Staly said at 3:30 p.m. “Then we’ll look at it safely and determine what it is, maybe how it got there, those kinds of things. I just want to re-emphasize it’s an active investigation. I don’t want to compromise the investigation saying too much.”
“It’s my understanding that we did receive cals about a small boom I guess would be the best way to describe it, and when deputies got there they did see something else suspicious, so were handling it with an abundance of caution for the deputies and the community so that nobody gets hurt.”
No one is being asked to evacuate, but some roads have been blocked off. “We have not done any evacuations,” the sheriff said. The incident is handled as a “worst case scenario, even though it may not be.”
It is entirely possible the suspect was caught on more than one resident’s front door camera.
Billy Bunnell says
Probably kids with fireworks, Staley will use incident to grow the FCSO again. $5 million to establish a new unit with staff of 10, new vehicles including special equipment, drones, etc. Any opportunity to grow his empire cannot be ignored.
You must have something personal against staly and the dept….he and his deputies are doing a great job trying to clean up palm coast..
Maybe you need to move somewhere else
Wannabe Florida Man says
Sheriff Staly has transformed the FCSO into a top tier law enforcement agency.
However, he shouldn’t be calling a dude with a long history of setting of questionably-sourced fireworks as a “wannabe bomber.”
Your mom says
How about all you scumbags throw rocks when you live in a glass house you guys are all keyboard Crusaders I personally know Mike and he’s a good guy give anyone of u the shirt off his back and as for Rick Staley he’s a f****** joke has no compassion for anybody he wants to call everybody a dirtbag or scumbag or send them to the root Green Roof Inn no compassion for f****** help and there’s no resources in Flagler County for anyone who needs f****** help he’s a f****** joke so keep playing his jokes for Bingo Friday for the people wanted oh it’s not f****** funny they’re all corrupt f****** scumbags in that f****** Department thanks Rick Staley you’re a f****** joke yeah use all the taxpayers money for your corrupt Department you guys are all f****** joke
I’ve personally known him, too, for 12 yrs and this IS who he is. Drugs, guns, burglary, prison, the list goes on. Grateful he’ll finally be put away for a while.
David Scott says
The person you all think it was It wasn’t he was in st Augustine working. There is some one Putto frame him.
Uncle Jesse says
Ladies and gentlemen, please stand by. In the next episode the Sheriff apprehends his man and makes a PR statement that reads something like, “I’d like to thank those who registered their cameras with the FCSO. Without the help of people like you, this dangerous perpetrator may have gone on to commit similar crimes in your area. This knucklehead is now enjoying a stay in the Green Roof Inn.”
Don’t fall for this or allow his farm of keyboard warriors to convince you this is why the perp was caught. Criminals will be caught regardless. Those cameras they are trying to access will be live feeds in the “Real time Crime center” once the option is free and cleverly packaged. Criminals or people suspect WILL NOT be the only ones targeted with your cameras as LE has proven time and time again. Camera registry WILL be abused by Law Enforcement and used for the wrong purpose at some point and it’s simply not worth the risk to the general public. Keep the police working the street. It’s their job to see through their own eyes, not yours.
jOE sTOLFI says
@ Uncle Jesse says:
Uncle Jessie — — You ain’t wrong . sadly
Uncle Jesse: My neighbor’s Ring Cameras were responsible for nabbing a “porch pirate”. Caught him loading the goods.
This is exactly the type of incident where valuable investigative time could be saved when working to identify suspects if residents in Flagler County who have doorbell or exterior security cameras would register their home address with the sheriff’s office. Doing so does not give law enforcement or anyone else access to spy on you – it merely identifies you as a potential source of video evidence if a crime occurs near your house, and allows sheriff’s investigators a quick way to contact you to ask that you review your camera footage or allow them to do so. It is NOT “big brother”, it is however, another valuable way you can help in the effort to solve crime and keep our communities safe. I have signed up for this, and I hope others who have security cameras or doorbell cameras to consider signing on FCSO’s website. We ALL need to do our part in the effort to keep our crime rate low and help lock up those who think they can get away with committing crimes in our neighborhoods.
Uncle Jesse says
And here you are, as if on Cue as usual.
“It is NOT “big brother”, it is however, another valuable way you can help in the effort to solve crime and keep our communities safe.”
Once the latter becomes a free option and the public has swallowed the pill, there’s no going back. I suspect you already have experience in convincing the public to systematically buy into something. Allowing LE to tap home security cameras is extremely overreaching and will further disproportionately effect people of color and class when it becomes a live feed situation. It WILL become live in due time when the option is free. Say NO to camera registry people and don’t allow the Sheriff’s farm of keyboard warriors to convince you otherwise.
Well, Uncle Jesse, yes here I am right on cue because someone has to speak up as a counterpoint to your dire “big brother” take on the FCSO online registration portal that is voluntary for citizens. You have every right to be wary of this technology if that is what you choose to believe, so just don’t sign up, very simple. But I think you are doing a disservice to the community by trying to dissuade others from making their own minds up based on your misinformation about the capability of the online registration portal and the technology to somehow spy on residents, which is just not true. I am very knowledgeable about the internet and computer technology, and also concerned about my privacy as a citizen. When signing up, I never relinquished even a tiny bit of my privacy, nor does FCSO have any way whatsoever to somehow “take over” my doorbell camera to spy on me or anyone else. I’m completely comfortable with what the online registry, and citizens of Palm Coast and Flagler County should be free to decide for themselves, but based on accurate and truthful information, not fantastical misinformation.
I was visiting my son on fleetwood ,3 houses from where this occured and was on his porch when this happened ,there definately was an explosion,small yet strong enough to move the cement top of that storm drain several inches. myself and several other neighbors ran to the scene and laying on the ground next to the drain was what appeared to be a detonator, small square electronic component with an antennae and wires coming out ,thats when the cops were called. The explosion occured at 1;36 pm , I know because the cops had me check my sons surveilence camera looking for a suspicious white van, and at 1;36 I hollered” holy shit an explosion” on the tape.The fcso and st johns bomb squad did a great job of securing the area and eventually clearing the area.
Celia Pugliese says
Let those home ring cameras do the work to help our sheriff catch the perpetratrors.
Uncle Jesse says
Once tapping into live feeds from home security systems becomes a free option and the public has swallowed the pill, there’s no going back. Allowing LE to tap home security cameras is extremely overreaching and will further disproportionately effect people of color and class when it becomes a live feed situation. It WILL become live in due time when the option is free. Say NO to camera registry people and don’t allow the Sheriff’s farm of keyboard warriors to systematically convince you otherwise. There are risky people within Law Enforcement (not all thankfully) who are attracted to the power the job. Allowing bad apples to access your security cameras WILL be abused and used for the wrong purpose at some point and it’s simply not worth the risk to the general public.
The best ever says
Those of you who boast that Staly is doing such a great job may I ask, Why?? He has spent more money on the Sheriffs Office in the last 5 years than was spend in the previous 10. Major crime is actually up. Fleming and Manfre both boasted that they reduced crime by the same inflated numbers that Staly uses and you all eat up. Sadly your all sheep. Now please quietly follow.
Now you know why it’s called “The ‘F’ Section.”
Best comment! Made my day.
@Uncle Jesse…..why are you so adamant that the use of the cameras will adversely and disprproportionally affect people of color? Is there any reason that it should?
This person seems to be becoming progressively more dangerous.
How many times is the prosecutor and judge going to let him out?
Exactly. He already spent time in prison around 8 yrs ago for burglary and drugs. His probation should’ve put him away last September when he was busted again with a firearm and fentanyl. He is not a good human. And his family (thankfully) can’t cover up for him this time.
Land of no turn signals says says
Gotta let up on the hair dye bro.
Nice to know those Ring cameras are always recording and have a direct feed to the sheriff office.
Hey Michael Blum, isn’t it time to grow up?
Robert Race says
What’s the difference. Judge will probably drop all charges as they have before. The legal system favors the criminals
Yeah, screw all that “Due Process” bullshit, eh, Rob? Constitution, we don’ need no stinkin’ Constitution!
Maybe where you came from.
Gee I’m glad more knuckle heads can get guns without a permit. I will feel ever so much safer.
Rick stanley and his deputies do a great job in this city concerning crime they our putting their lives on the line every single day at not such a great salary they should be giving koodos for proecting the people in palm coast and Flager
if i had wish they do not give out so much warnings on traffic tickets
This guy obvious has a problem, and he needs to be mentally checked out and if he passes that exam the Flagler County Judges need to lock him up for good, he is a danger to the community.
Wannabe Florida Man says
I’ve always been a big fan of Sheriff Rick Daly, but I have always found his “Tough Florida Sheriff Talk” to be unprofessional.
Labling this dude as a “wannabe bomber” is borderline slander based on what is currently known about the “explosion” as it clearly appears to have been a large, homemade firework.
If this guy had detonated an actual IED or homemade “bomb,” the FBI and ATF would have immediately sent agents to the scene.
I also found it a bit ironic Sheriff Staly called him that right after saying FCSO has responded to Blum’s address over 25 times, mainly for fireworks nuisance complaints.
It’s pretty obvious this Florida Man should look for a job in the commercial fireworks industry instead of making them illegally at home.
Staly has been slapped by Judges in the past for making statements like this, I think Mr. Blum’s attorney could probably raise a good argument that this comment impacted his right to a fair trial.