A 58-year-old retired military man has accepted a plea agreement in connection with possessing explosive materials in an incident that led to the evacuation of City Hall South in August.

Ronald James McVay pleaded no contest Thursday to a charge of possessing a destructive device. A charge of making a destructive device without a permit was dismissed under the plea agreement. 

Sentencing is set for Dec. 15.

McVay was arrested early Aug. 15 for a matter unrelated to the materials he kept stored in the garage of his house in the 100 block of Real Road.

According to court documents, he woke his wife around 2 a.m., shouted about their finances, then struck her. She went outside and called police.

After officers arrested McVay, his wife called her stepson and a friend, told them what happened and asked them to come over to help pack some of her husband's things.

They went into the garage, where the stepson recognized some items on McVay's workbench as materials usedto make explosive devices, the documents said. 

They boxed up the materials, placed them in a car and drove to a parking lot at City Hall South near police headquarters to turn them in. Upon being told what was in the car, police cleared the area and sent in a bomb squad.

Among the dozens of chemicals and objects found in the car were black rifle powder, gluconic acid, activated charcoal, PVC pipes and containers filled with marbles and BBs, according to the documents. The items were either rendered safe or disposed of by a hazardous materials team.

McVay told police he experiments in making fireworks and other items, but doesn't assemble anything that could "create shrapnel," the documents said. He said he learned how to make black powder while in the military, and added to his knowledge of chemicals and devices through online videos.

He told investigators he uses marbles in a device to ground powders, and tried using PVC pipes as tubes to launch model rockets. He admitted to smoking methamphetamine, the documents said, and claimed to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. 

McVay's wife told police he served in multiple branches of the military and worked on nuclear missile systems, according to the documents. She said his personality had changed in the months before his arrest, and he became "more and more unstable."

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