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Authorities continue investigation into PSU student's bomb making

By: WJAC Web Staff

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Several authorities, including Altoona police and the FBI, are continuing their investigation into allegations that a Russian-national had a bomb and bomb-making materials in an apartment near the Penn State Altoona campus in Blair County.

Altoona police arrested Vladislav Miftakhov, 18, late Friday night while investigating a suspected marijuana grow operation in an apartment at 118 N. 9th Ave. Miftakhov is enrolled at Penn State Altoona as an engineering student.

Police had limited updated information Monday morning, saying only that the investigation was continuing and several investigative agencies were working together.

Police said they had few details on Miftakhov's background and added that he told officers he didn't have any specific plans of using any bombs.

NBC affiliate KNTV-TV reported Miftakhov attended Carlmont High School in the San Francisco area. Steven Tsujisaka said he was one of Miftakhov's classmates.

"I just had to look twice, and look at my yearbook and make sure this was the same kid," Tsujisaka said. "When we were in classes together, he was very shy, very to himself."

6 News reporter Maria Miller spoke with one of Miftakhov's roommates in Altoona. He told her Miftakhov usually kept to himself and seemed odd, but said it seemed like a one-in-a-billion chance that he'd live with a bomb maker.

KNTV-TV spoke with a woman who identified herself as Miftakhov's mother at a home in San Carlos, Calif. She said she planned to travel to Pennsylvania to be near her son, but would not comment further.

Miftakhov is being held in the Blair County prison on $500,000 bond and faces several charges, including possessing a weapon of mass destruction, risking a catastrophe, recklessly endangering another person and drug charges.

Police made the discovery of the bomb and bomb-making materials after investigating the marijuana grow operation. Apartment maintenance workers tipped police off to the possible grow operation.

Miftakhov permitted police to search his apartment, where investigators found five marijuana plants, aluminum foil and drug-related items. That is also when the bomb-making materials were found.

Miftakhov told investigators he had purchased the bomb-making materials via the internet over the past several weeks.

Miftakhov doesn't have an attorney listed on court documents, but the Altoona Mirror reported Monday that Hollidaysburg defense attorney Bob Donaldson expressed an interest in representing him.

The Mirror reported Donaldson does other pro bono work with Penn State students and is involved in other university affairs.

Donaldson said he visited Miftakhov in prison Sunday and said that he believes Miftakhov needs help and someone to listen.

A preliminary hearing for Miftakhov has been scheduled for Feb. 5.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times