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Gas-soaked Idaho man jailed for bomb threats

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A man soaked in gasoline and armed with a machete threatened to blow up himself and police during a confrontation in a northwest Idaho town, authorities said on Monday.

Frederick Purdin, 44, who police described as mentally unstable, was arrested following a 10-minute standoff in Lewiston, Idaho, on Sunday night.

He was booked on suspicion of possession of destructive devices or explosives, and false reports of explosives.

The standoff was sparked by a phone call to police by Purdin, who said he was covered in gasoline and preparing to detonate bombs in the parking lot of the Lewiston Police Department, according to a police report.

Officers who confronted Purdin there found he smelled of "a flammable substance" and began ranting unintelligibly, said Lewiston Police Captain Roger Lanier.

Purdin also said that bombs were set to blow up himself and the officers, police said.

The confrontation ended when Purdin pulled out a machete and officers drew their weapons, which prompted him to give himself up, Lanier said.

Purdin was taken to a local hospital after firefighters sprayed him with water to remove any flammable substance.

He was jailed on Monday, after investigators uncovered the makings of explosives Purdin had stashed in a backpack and in his car, which were both placed near where the confrontation occurred.

Authorities called in a bomb squad from nearby Spokane, Washington, to assess and dismantle the materials -- including electronics and gunpowder -- "none of which were put together in a manner that would explode," Lanier said.

Lanier said Purdin's motives were not immediately clear.

Under Idaho law, each explosives count that Purdin faces carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Greg McCune)

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