Barrie residents head home as bomb sweep ends
Police in Barrie, Ont., have completed their sweep of a home where more than 80 explosive devices were found, allowing neighbours to return to their residences after a weeklong evacuation.
The explosives, as well as several weapons, were found following the arrest of two men in connection with a cold-case homicide.
"The evacuees of the area in and around 30 Virgilwood Cr. have been very kind, supportive and patient to all the officers involved, which was appreciated during this long complex situation," police said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
Police said the home and neighbourhood are now safe, and thanked EMS, fire crews, Red Cross and the city for their help during the search of the home.
As of Thursday morning, police had uncovered an assortment of chemicals, 83 improvised explosive devices — some wired for remote detonation — and 29 firearms. There were also thousands of rounds of ammunition.
On Wednesday, police released photographs of a bunker in the home. They show a small space crammed with electronic equipment and various items packed in plastic bags hanging on the walls.
The City of Barrie approved a permit in 1984 to the owner of the home for a fallout shelter, which police said has been divided into two rooms.
The explosive devices and weapons were uncovered after police executed a search warrant at the home last Thursday.
They found explosive devices tucked away in hidden places, while others were left out in the open.
Those evacuated from some 20 homes in the neighbourhood last Thursday can head back any time they like, Barrie police Const. Angela Butler said.
"I got to tell them personally myself. It was a great feeling," she said.
Neighbour Joe Ouellette lives just a few doors down and had no hint of the dangers.
"You don’t see these kinds of things in this area," he said. "Or you don’t think these things happen in this kind of area. And here it is."
The search was ordered after a 54-year-old resident at the home, Donald Feldhoff, turned himself in to police on Wednesday in connection with the 1978 death of 26-year-old Michael Traynor.
Feldhoff has since been charged with first-degree murder.
His father, William Feldhoff, 75, owns the home and was charged as an accessory after the fact. He made a brief video appearance in court Thursday morning and was prohibited from communicating with his son.
He is scheduled to appear again in court on July 27.
His lawyer, Bernard Cugelman, said outside the court that Feldhoff is a dedicated family man who was traumatized by his boyhood years in post-war Germany.
"Obviously, that's stayed with him and it's sort of triggered this survivalist instinct," he said.
Police will hold a news conference about the sweep of the home on Friday morning.
With files from The Canadian Press