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October 1, 2014

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Roommate says Russian teen set off mini-bombs in Pennsylvania

ALTOONA, Pa. — The roommate of a Penn State student from Russia charged with building a suspected bomb in his bedroom says the 18-year-old recently set off three "mini-bombs" just outside their apartment.

Andrew Leff told the Altoona Mirror that he had advised Vladislav Miftakhov to get rid of the bomb-making materials. He called Miftakhov a "dumb" and "crazy" kid who was bored and impulsive, but not dangerous.

"He was off the wall," Leff told the Mirror.

Miftakhov, a student at Penn State's satellite campus in Altoona, was in jail Sunday after being arrested Friday and charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction, risking a catastrophe and several other drug and weapons counts, according to court records. The records did not list a lawyer for Miftakhov, who was being held on $500,000 bail.

No one answered a telephone call Sunday to an address listed for Miftakhov in California.

In the affidavit, police said they were investigating a reported marijuana growing operation at Miftakhov's apartment reported by the landlord when they found a suitcase holding two containers with exposed fuses and other explosives-related materials. The devices were later dismantled by Pennsylvania State Police troopers.

An Altoona Police officer in the apartment asked Miftakhov what he was going to do with the devices and Miftakhov responded that he was going to "blow things up," according to the affidavit. Later, under questioning at the police station, Miftakhov said he had experimented with the devices in California, but never in Pennsylvania, and he had not planned on blowing up anything, the affidavit said.

"Miftakhov stated his intent was to set the devices off in a remote field and did not intend on 'blowing anything up,'" the affidavit said.

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