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Man injured in blast from homemade explosives in Leander meant no harm, police say

A Leander man was hospitalized Saturday evening when the homemade explosives he was making exploded (Photo: CBS Austin)

Blown out windows and shards of broken glass litter the front yard where police say 60-year-old Steve Aldrich was crafting explosive materials inside his home on Newcastle Lane in Leander Saturday night.

They don’t know why he was making them, but they don’t believe he meant any harm to anyone or himself.

"It's very rare in our community, and this is one of those isolated incidents that aren't very common,” said Lt. Billy Fletcher with the Leander Police Department.

Neighbors, like Wile Johnson, know this isn’t the first time Aldrich has tried an experiment like this.

In 2015, he was arrested after an explosion lead police to search his home where they found explosive materials.

"I have some empathy for the guy, because he really doesn't seem to understand,” Johnson said. “I certainly don't want my neighbors to have a lot of explosives."

Leander Police say Aldrich first called 911 Saturday night after the explosion left him with serious injuries. He was taken to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center where he remained in critical condition Monday night.

"We are actually working with the Austin Bomb Squad to determine what those substances were,” Fletcher said.

When police got the house, they found other completed explosive materials, forcing them to call for help from several other agencies.

“On scene were Austin Police Department Bomb Squad, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Leander Fire Department, and the FBI, as well as the Leander Police Department,” Fletcher said.

Police even had to evacuate neighbors nearby so they could safely detonate the explosives found inside.

“We called my son. He got the crate for the dogs. We went over to his house and spent the night,” Johnson said.

He isn’t worried, but he hopes this explosion will be a final lesson for Aldrich.

“Something needs to be done so that he doesn't do it again, because who knows whether it will happen next time,” Johnson said.

Leander Police is working with the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office and FBI to determine what charges Aldrich could face.

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