GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A northern Michigan man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for illegally possessing three pipe bombs, which were discovered after he was reportedly shooting at birds near his propane tank.
Terrence Wayne Vanochten, 57, of Mancelona appeared in federal court in Kalamazoo on Friday, where the judge gave him a term of 52 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
He pleaded guilty in June to possessing unregistered destructive devices, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison.
Police went to Vanochten’s Kalkaska County home in August 2022 after neighbors reported Vanochten was shooting from his house. He admitted to shooting at crows near his propane tank with a semiautomatic rifle, court records show.
“He was drunk, high, and shooting at birds with a near-machine gun, in the direction of a propane tank, in a residential neighborhood,” according to a government sentencing memorandum.
Deputies returned to his house with a search warrant and found what investigators described as a “large cache” of semiautomatic weapons, ammunition, military gear and three metal pipe bombs, court record show.
“Vanochten now claims he built the bombs for fishing, and not as antipersonnel devices,” according to a government sentencing memorandum.
“But the bombs were found in an ammunition can, as part of a cache of military equipment and high-powered weapons, near manuals on how to make booby-traps and use explosives as part of a “militia battle plan,” according to a sentencing memorandum.
Defense attorney Sean R. Tilton said Vanochten was “remorseful for committing this offense.”
“Mr. VanOchten remains optimistic about his future,” Tilton wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He intends to make better decisions in the future and return to a law abiding and productive life.”
In a hand-written letter to the court, VanOchten apologized for his actions.
“This offense has cost me dearly in many ways and has turned out to be the worst mistake of my life,” he wrote. “I’m not a mean spirited, abusive or violent person.”
He also wrote that he is not a danger or threat to anyone.
“I stand fully committed to getting my life back on track,” Vanochten wrote. “Alcohol will never alter my judgement again.”