The Mastic Beach man accused of bringing three explosive devices to Stony Brook University Hospital suggested that local police should be more worried about recent riots in New York City than him, court records show.
Robert Roden, 33, was incredulous when Stony Brook University police officers questioned him after a Stony Brook University Hospital security guard alerted authorities to a suspicious man in the emergency room waiting area on Tuesday night.
“There’s people burning police cars, breaking all your windows,” Roden told Stony Brook police a week after the George Floyd riots in the city ended, documents show. “You really going to lock me up for a knife?”
Roden pleaded not guilty Thursday at Suffolk County court to criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds, criminal possession of a controlled substance, and criminal contempt. Additional charges are possible after the FBI completes an analysis of the explosive devices.
Judge Pierce Cohalan set bail for Roden at $500,000 or $1 million bond. Roden is represented by Legal Aide Society, which has a policy of not commenting on pending cases.
“It was in fact a device that could have been detonated, if it was built correctly,” Suffolk County Police Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante said. “They appear to be about the size of a grenade with a fuse.”
Police said Roden was wearing a camouflage tactical vest with two patches: One with the symbol for comic book vigilante The Punisher and the other that says “Black Guns” above an image of an assault rifle. It appears to be a “Black Guns Matter” patch, but police did not confirm that is the third word on the patch.
In the vest were magazines full of 9mm ammunition and in his belt, Roden had a BB gun that was loaded with 9mm bullets, authorities added. A judge had issued an order prohibiting Roden from owning a gun after he was arrested for menacing last year, according to investigators and court records. He also had a tomahawk knife and handcuffs in his bomb-laden backpack, police said.
Two floors of the hospital and the emergency room were evacuated for several hours as a precaution after the devices were found. There were no reported injuries.
He was also found to have more than an eighth of an ounce of methamphetamine “in excess of personal use and possess multiple cellphones all consistent with the modus operandi of a street-level dealer,” court records show.
Roden appears to be unemployed, lives with a male partner who was in the emergency room for an undisclosed reason at the time of Roden’s arrest, and was dropped off by a third party, police said. The two other people are also being questioned, police said. Investigators seized computers and additional explosive devices upon executing a search warrant at his Wavecrest Drive home.
Authorities said it is unclear is the hospital was a target or if Roden is affiliated with any criminal groups. Arson Section detectives, the Bomb Squad, Canine Unit officers, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and university police were involved in the arrest. The investigation is continuing.
“Although this is an extremely troubling incident that came to a successful outcome, senior leadership remains committed to improving security within the University Hospital,” Stony Brook hospital officials said in a statement. “We will continue to explore additional opportunities to maintain a safe and secure environment for our employees, for our patients and for the community.”