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Brian Campbell in court

Brian Campbell, left, appears in court Monday with his lawyer, Sarah Schmeiser.


Bail was set at $100,000 Monday for a man arrested last week after police suspected that he was experimenting with explosives at his Far West Side apartment.

Brian N. Campbell, 30, will return to court on Wednesday, when prosecutors expect to have a criminal complaint ready. For now, he is tentatively charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, possession of improvised explosives and misdemeanor bail jumping.

Campbell was arrested early Feb. 21 after police and firefighters were called on Feb. 20 to his apartment at 7410 Timber Lake Trail to investigate odors and discovered containers of chemicals in the apartment and in a garage assigned to Campbell. Residents of the building were evacuated and were only able to return over the weekend.

A search warrant filed in Dane County Circuit Court states that among the items that police seized were green fuse cord, a homemade detonator, a metal pipe, a metal switch and a threaded brass pipe cap.

“The amount of chemicals and powders that were recovered and seen at this apartment give rise to a major concern for public safety from the state’s perspective,” said Assistant District Attorney John Rice, who argued for $100,000 cash bail. “Apart from chemicals, a number of other things were found that seem to be used to manufacture pipe bombs.”

He said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives have been involved in the investigation.

Rice said that Campbell is unemployed and that his parents live in Illinois, but Campbell’s lawyer, Sarah Schmeiser, said that he had recently started a job in an information technology position. While his father and stepmother live in Illinois, she said, his mother lives in Wisconsin.

Schmeiser argued that Cambell should be released on a signature bond. She said afterward that Dane County’s local rule about time spent in jail before appearing in court appeared to have been violated.

Court Commissioner Jason Hanson agreed in court that by Wednesday it would be a “fairly lengthy amount of time” that Campbell has been in custody without charges since his arrest last week, but added that “this is a fairly complicated set of facts.”

“From my perspective, there’s simply a lot we don’t know,” Hanson said.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.