Whatcom man arrested for allegedly possessing homemade bombs, guns hidden in the rafters

This story has been updated

A Whatcom County man was arrested Thursday afternoon for allegedly having five homemade explosive devices and multiple firearms hidden in the rafters of his house just days after he signed a legal declaration in a domestic violence case stating he possessed no weapons, authorities said.

Matthew John Simmons, 43, was arrested Oct. 26 on suspicion of three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and at least one count of possession of explosives without a license, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

Simmons also allegedly had explosive-making materials, hundreds of magazines for a semi-automatic rifle, and thousands of rounds of ammunition at his house, according to court records.

He was expected to make his first appearance in Superior Court Friday afternoon.

Simmons has also pleaded not guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault in two separate Whatcom County District Court cases filed in mid-October. One of the assault charges includes a domestic violence enhancement and a no-contact order was put in place between Simmons and the woman involved in the case, court records show.

Firearms found

On Oct. 24, less than a week after Simmons pleaded not guilty in the assault cases, the woman called 911 to report that Simmons had possibly violated the domestic violence no-contact order.

The woman told a Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office detective she was concerned that Simmons still had firearms in his possession — despite Simmons signing a legal document in one of the assault cases stating that he had no weapons to surrender.

Simmons had been ordered by the court to surrender his firearms, concealed carry permits and any other weapons as part of pretrial conditions in the assault case. He signed a declaration of non-surrender Oct. 19, stating that he had no firearms or weapons to surrender to law enforcement, court documents show.

The woman told the sheriff’s detective that after Simmons had signed the document, she found multiple firearms at his home northeast of Ferndale and took photographs of them. The photos allegedly showed multiple rifles in various places throughout the house and six handguns and various ammunition on a table in the basement. The guns were unsecured and in a place accessible to Simmons’ 12-year-old child, court documents state.

The woman told the detective she previously turned 30 firearms in to the sheriff’s office for safekeeping in mid-October. She said she did this for her safety, because she was leaving a domestic violence situation and was concerned Simmons would have access to the guns, according to court records.

Simmons and the woman got into a physical fight later that same night, which resulted in Simmons’ arrest and subsequent domestic violence assault charge.

The woman told the detective that Simmons had texted her on Oct. 23, violating the no-contact order between them. The woman said she thought Simmons was drinking and she was concerned for her safety, the court documents state.

Search warrants

On Oct. 26, sheriff’s detectives and deputies served a search warrant at Simmons’ home in the 6400 block of Aldrich Road looking for firearms.

Law enforcement found a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle with a red dot optic, or sight, hidden in a rafter in the ceiling in the basement. A Glock 22 handgun with a loaded magazine was also found in the rafters near the AR-15, the court records state.

Five red homemade improvised explosive devices with fuses coming out of them and bags filled with various explosive powders were also found next to the guns. After finding the explosive materials and homemade bombs, the bomb squad was requested to respond to the scene.

A certified bomb technician confirmed the items were in fact homemade IEDs and materials used to make them. The bombs and explosive materials were later seized as part of an additional search warrant, court documents state. It was also determined that Simmons does not have a license to possess the explosive materials, as required by law.

Law enforcement also found and seized 70 magazines for the AR-15 and thousands of rounds of various caliber bullets from the same room in Simmons’ home.

The woman told sheriff’s detectives that Simmons regularly accessed this room, and was also the room Simmons’ 12-year-old child slept in, according to court records.

A .22-caliber rifle was also found unsecured and leaning against a wall in Simmons’ mother’s bedroom in the house. The mother told detectives that Simmons can and does go into her room.

In total, sheriff’s deputies and detectives found and seized three guns, five homemade bombs, various materials to make explosives, 70 magazines for guns and thousands of various caliber bullets from Simmons’ home.