A northern Minnesota man wrote of taking to the woods to usher in an armed rebellion against the government before he was linked to a cache of homemade bombs, prosecutors alleged ahead of a federal explosives trial in Fergus Falls this week.
Eric James Reinbold, 41, was arrested last fall in Kansas, where a state trooper stopped his car days after law enforcement raided Reinbold’s Oklee, Minn., home. The search followed the discovery of a bag of pipe bombs — and a receipt in Reinbold’s name — found by relatives on the family’s hunting property.
According to court papers filed before trial began Monday, Reinbold also kept a copy of the Anarchist Cookbook and another purported bombmaking notebook entitled “How one(1) person Can make a difference.” The text, further described as an “Instruction Booklet” for the “homemade commando university,” included pipe bomb diagrams and recipes for fashioning fishing line into trip wires.
Also before the trial began, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim ruled that only sections of Reinbold’s notebook “directly related” to making, possessing or using bombs can be used as evidence. Reinbold, charged with a single count of possessing an unregistered explosive device, allegedly also wrote in the book about his plans to “start the 2nd American Revolution” and go “Rambo on the IRS” and politicians, court papers say.
The federal case against Reinbold has narrowly focused on the explosives charge, but his online footprint includes purported activity in popular white supremacist and survivalist web forums.
Reinbold told a federal judge earlier this year that he farmed wheat, soybeans and barley with his father in rural Red Lake County, hauling grain and removing snow in the colder months.
Previously accused of leading law enforcement on a long standoff after a reported domestic dispute in 2015, Reinbold hit federal authorities’ radar last year when relatives found a stash of pipe bombs during a youth hunting trip.
JJ MacNab, a fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism who tracks the anti-government movement, said such sympathizers rarely operate in a vacuum. “Even if it’s on the internet, there’s got to be some communication with other people,” she said.
“They all have the same goal: I want to be the spark that starts the second American Revolution,” MacNab said. “They want to be the inspiration for the takedown of the government. They don’t necessarily want to be the one to do it themselves.”
Using the handle “DoubleChinRooster,” Reinbold allegedly participated in online discussions on Stormfront, a long-running white supremacist forum. He wrote critically of immigration and feminism, and weighed in on the topic of secession.
“How does one secede? I would guess the 1st step is to expel the state patrols and then stick your finger up at the federal IRS,” DoubleChinRooster wrote before adding an emoji of two smiley faces clinking beer mugs. He continued to write that 100 armed people could probably carry out the task.
The same DoubleChinRooster handle also outraged posters on a survivalist forum after writing, “Cops really are bogus this day and age. I look forward to the day when I turn on the news and someone has overrun a state patrol HQ and burned it.”
Red Lake County Sheriff Mitch Bernstein, who took the initial report on the pipe bomb discovery, said community members were not surprised at the thought of Reinbold harboring “anti-authority or anti-government” views.
“But I don’t know that anybody would have thought he was manufacturing bombs, possessing them or anything like that,” Bernstein said Tuesday.
Reinbold made local news in 2015 when a mail carrier reported him ramming a vehicle with his wife and children inside. He later engaged in a lengthy standoff with multiple law enforcement agencies at the farm before fleeing to the woods nearby. Reinbold, who later turned himself in, received a stayed adjudication, but was later charged with tampering with a witness for allegedly threatening the mail carrier who called 911.
He has denied owning the pipe bombs, and DNA and fingerprints were not found on the devices concealed in a tote bag on the family’s property. But prosecutors say relatives “immediately suspected” Reinbold after discovering in the same bag a receipt in Reinbold’s name from a website that sells fuses.
The bag also allegedly contained two jugs of gunpowder, “suction-cup style nerf bullets with fishing wire and hooks,” a kitchen timer, toggle switches and a “cut Christmas tree light.” Additional nerf bullets and “pyrotechnic fuses” found on Reinbold’s property were consistent with the items found in the bag, prosecutors say.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Allyn previously argued for showing jurors all of Reinbold’s notebook, saying excluding other pages “would unfairly leave the jury with the impression that [Reinbold] is but a doodler who enjoys drawing diagrams of bombs or a person benignly interested in the engineering and chemical makeup of such devices.”
During a hearing over Reinbold’s detention this year, Blair Nelson, one of his attorneys, argued against the claim that there was no legitimate purpose for owning pipe bombs on hunting land: “Up in that part of the country frequently beavers or muskrats will clog drain pipes and their habitats need to be detonated. It’s part of life Up North.”
Reinbold’s is one of at least three federal explosives cases filed so far this year in Minnesota. Three members of an Illinois militia are awaiting trial on charges related to last year’s bombing of a Bloomington mosque. A federal grand jury meanwhile indicted a Willmar man on 18 counts in connection with the discovery of an arsenal of machine guns, grenade launchers and pipe bombs on his rural property. Prosecutors allege that the man had discussed targeting a judge, prosecutor and another attorney with the bombs.
Antigovernment extremism surged during the Obama administration, MacNab said. But the alleged leader of the Illinois group accused of bombing the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center has recorded YouTube videos sympathetic to President Donald Trump and previously submitted a bid to help build his promised wall along the country’s Southwest border with Mexico.
Now, she said, many in the movement are searching for a new enemy toward which to channel their rage. “They’re not particularly sophisticated, they’re not often highly educated. But they are very, very angry,” MacNab said.