By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 2, 2024.
Michael John Wynia learned the hard way that the often trite cliche, “two out of three ain’t bad,” doesn’t apply to homemade bombs.
The Claresholm man successfully built and exploded two bombs early last year, but he barely survived after blowing himself up with a third homemade bomb.
At about 6 a.m. on March 4 of last year Wynia and a friend took Wynia’s homemade PVC pipe bomb to a compost site in Claresholm and, while the other man recorded the event, Wynia detonated the bomb in a large garbage bin, causing extensive damage.
“It blew a garbage receptacle apart. It blew side panels right off of it,” Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox said during a sentencing hearing this week in Lethbridge court of justice.
Two days later, at about 2:10 a.m. Wynia had another homemade bomb that resembled a large firework enclosed in putty and thin plastic food wrap. Wynia and his friend took the explosive device to Amundsen Park in Claresholm and Wynia lit the fuse then placed it in a garbage container.
“Once again causing, I think, a larger explosion than they anticipated, once again destroying the garbage receptacle,” Fox said.
While police were investigating the explosions, Wynia was making another bomb. On March 25 two friends arrived at Wynia’s residence and went into a shed where Wynia was drilling a fuse hole in a metal pipe bomb filled with gunpowder.
“Drilling a hole into a PVC pipe doesn’t create the same amount of friction or heat as drilling a hole in a metal pipe that was full of black powder,” Fox noted. “This pipe bomb he was drilling into exploded, literally in his hands.”
Lethbridge lawyer Tracy Hembroff said Wynia was blown across his garage. The drill he was using went into his chest, he broke two ribs and blew off one of his biceps. His two friends, who were not injured, had to revive him.
“He was driven up to Calgary by ambulance where he spent a week in the Foothills (Hospital) as they tried to put his bicep back on,” Hembroff said.
Wynia, 40, pleaded guilty to two charges of causing an explosion, and was sentenced to five months in jail. He also pleaded guilty to one count of break and enter/commit mischief and three counts of failing to comply with conditions of an undertaking, for which he was sentenced to an additional 30 months in jail.
On May 6 Wynia’s friend was sleeping in his own residence when Wynia, who had been ordered by the court not to have any contact with the man, burst in and demanded the return of his barbecue and pressure washer he had previously loaned him. He told the other man he had one hour, then formed a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot him. Wynia was upset his friend had given a statement to police, and he pulled out a baton but only held it in the man’s face. Wynia had also been prohibited from possessing weapons.
Three days later Wynia was again in breach of his release conditions when he went to his former friend’s home and began yelling threats and kicking the door.
Hembroff said there isn’t a clear explanation for Wynia’s behaviour other than his life was “spiralling downward” after his wife left him.
She said her client began drinking alcohol when he was 13 years old, and worked his way up to 15 cans of beer and a “40-pounder” (1.14 litres) of alcohol a day. By the age of 30 he was using crystal meth, to which he has been addicted for the past decade.
Hembroff said Wynia hit rock bottom and suffered from depression, but he’ll receive counselling and treatment while he’s in custody.
“If this whole incident doesn’t shock you into some reality, then I don’t know what would,” she said.
Although sentenced to nearly three years in a federal prison, Wynia was given credit for the equivalent of 12 months spent in remand custody, leaving him with a sentence of 23 months in jail. He is also prohibited from possessing weapons for five years, and he must submit a sample of his DNA to the National DNA Data Bank.