Teen suspect in Evanston bomb plot has a record

June 20, 2011 (CHICAGO)

This Intelligence Report looks into the high school suspect and a previous run-in he had with police.

At a court hearing Monday afternoon, the 19-year-old was ordered held until Wednesday, when a full background check can be completed and bond considered for the young man.

It started over the weekend, according to federal ATF agents, with a call to Evanston police about a bomb in a garbage can behind one of their substations.

The caller said he had planted a bomb behind the Evanston police station on a usually busy Howard Street. Now, Sergio Johnson Chaves is facing one charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device. The North Side high school student is a former Boy Scout and avid hockey player.

According to federal charges, Chaves had constructed a bomb from "three mortar shells, a .22 shell and some nails and glass."

The Internet is loaded with videos of similar mortar bombs being detonated in garbage cans and instructions on how to build the devices. Chaves told authorities that he had learned how to construct the bomb using fireworks and black powder.

At an initial appearance on Monday, Chaves was represented by a public defender and ordered held until the Wednesday hearing.

It isn't his first brush with the law: The I-Team has learned that the bomb suspect's history includes a similarly bizarre arrest in August of 2010, also by Evanston police. It was a traffic stop then when Chaves was found to have no license, registration or insurance.

Officers found white powder in the car and suspected drugs, but Chaves told them it was reptile food that he planned to sell as heroin in a drug rip-off scheme. He ended up pleading to a misdemeanor and was given six months court supervision.

In this case, authorities say, after placing a bomb behind the police station, Chaves called police to claim reward money for providing a crime tip. After being arrested, ATF agents say Chaves told them he deserved a payment for not detonating it.

Chaves' father said that his son wasn't part of any bomb plot, that he is a gifted, friendly person who "used more drugs than he should." The father said the boy's mother died of diabetes about five years ago and he has never been the same.

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