Devices explode near judge’s home in Indiana
Madison, Ind. — Two devices have exploded outside a police department and a judge’s home in a southern Indiana city in less than two weeks, and investigators believe the local criminal justice system is being targeted.
Madison Police Chief Dan Thurston said investigators were following leads on Friday but had no suspects following the latest explosion early Wednesday, which left black scorch marks in the driveway of Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Michael Hensley’s home. The first explosion happened about 1 a.m. on March 7 at the entrance to the Madison City Hall’s parking lot.
No injuries from either explosion were reported, but a federal investigator said Friday that the explosion outside Hensley’s home could have caused injuries had anyone been nearby.
“It was not an extensive amount of damage,” said Special Agent Kim Riddell of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “It certainly could pose a danger if someone was in close proximity.”
Authorities still do not know what type of device was used, but Thurston described the devices as homemade powder explosives lit by a fuse. He said evidence was taken to the bureau’s lab for analysis, to determine the devices’ makeup and how much damage they could have caused. It’s unclear how long the testing may take.
Thurston said he believed the explosions were connected.
“Based on the fact that the first one was in our city hall police department parking lot and now we have a judge — a judge’s residence — yes, we are taking that as a direct threat to our criminal justice system,” Thurston said during a news conference Thursday.
Michael Hensley was elected as a judge in 2014, after practicing law for more than 30 years in the 12,000-person city along the Ohio River about 50 miles northeast of Louisville, Kentucky.
The judge’s son, Evan Hensley, said his father “is holding up well.” He said he heard a noise about 3 a.m. Wednesday, but that it didn’t sound like a bomb. He said neither he nor his father saw the scorch marks on the driveway until they came home from work Wednesday afternoon.
“It is scary because you don’t know what kind of person is capable of this,” Hensley said.
Thurston asked relatives and neighbors of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and police officers to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity. Thurston said he didn’t know what might have prompted the explosions.
“There were no threats in advance.”