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Police: Chemicals could have made bomb

Police have arrested the brother of a Delmar teen caught in an explosion last winter for allegedly storing harmful chemicals in the basement of his apartment complex.

Bethlehem police arrested Jason Sanchez, 24, yesterday and charged him with reckless endangerment in the first degree, a felony, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, both misdemeanors.

Police allege Sanchez had chemicals including Acetone, Xylene, laboratory grade Nitric Acid, Sulfuric Acid, Propane and Butane, and also had a commercial grade vacuum chamber in the basement.

That chamber weighed upwards of 400 pounds and took several men to carry out of the complex, Bethlehem Police Deputy Chief Timothy Beebe said.

"That's kind of what sparked everybody's interest," he said.

Beebe said police haven't established a definite reason Sanchez allegedly had the materials, but did say they could collectively make a bomb. He described them as outside the realm of common household products.

Sanchez is a graduate student in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Computer Science Department.

Police said Sanchez ignored several orders to evacuate the building when police arrived on Tuesday. They responded to the call of another resident of the Cherry Arms Apartments who had seen the chemicals in the shared basement space.

Jason Sanchez's brother, Keenan Sanchez, was badly burned in an explosion at the family's Adams Place home last December. Firefighters allowed the fire to consume the house due to the possibility chemicals were involved.

A lengthy investigation into that incident followed, with police being assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The investigation involved analysis of samples taken from the scene. No charges have resulted from the fire, though.

Beebe said the investigation into that incident had basically come to a standstill and police haven't made any connections between the two cases yet.

"That's not to say this might not create some new leads," he added.

Sanchez was arraigned in Bethlehem Town Court and remanded to the Albany County jail on $15,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 6.

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