Jan. 23–Police are trying to pin down what might have motivated a homeless man to try to blow up one of their marked cruisers Friday with a crude bomb in South Boston.
Asim Kieta, 42, formerly of Dorchester, was arrested Saturday night in Charlestown, where he was living out of his 2014 Toyota Camry, Boston police Commissioner William B. Evans said yesterday.
— Tom Kujala (@tmkujala) January 20, 2017
“I’m thrilled we got him,” Evans said. “He has a lengthy criminal history. He’s been in and out of jail. Whether there’s a hatred of police because of his past behavior or whether there is some nexus to what’s going on in the world as far as terrorism or what happened (Saturday) with the demonstrations, we’re not clear … We’re not sure what his motive is. Thank God we got him off the streets.”
Kieta is due to be arraigned today in South Boston District Court on charges of possession of an explosive device, assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer and arson of personal property.
Kieta’s younger brother, Jomo, 38, appeared blindsided by his sibling’s arrest, and said he was unaware he was homeless.
“It comes as a surprise to me,” he said. “Last time I spoke to him he was in school.”
Evans said he spoke with FBI Boston Special Agent-in-Charge Harold “Hank” Shaw yesterday about potential federal charges being brought against Kieta. Shaw spokeswoman Kristen Setera declined comment, citing the open case.
Kieta formerly drove for Uber, but about a month ago was removed from accessing the company’s app, a spokesman said. Uber declined to say why.
The FBI is still piecing together what the incendiary device was comprised of, but Evans said investigators believe it involved a propane tank and possibly fireworks. He said officers first spotted a fire near the cruiser and quickly moved it out of harm’s way before two explosions followed. There were no major injuries reported. Investigators had hoped to execute a search warrant on the Camry yesterday.
“We have no indication at this time that this is anything that’s part of a plot,” Evans said. “Through video, through witness accounts, through police officers, we were able to focus on this individual, actually right from the get-go. It was just a matter of trying to locate that vehicle, which we have in custody, and locate him.”
Evans said surveillance video from Friday morning’s close call allegedly shows Kieta “coming out of a Toyota Camry holding what looks to be a grocery bag, putting a hood on, and walking towards our station. And then we have video showing him looking quickly over his shoulder, going back to that vehicle, and driving quickly way.”
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