Terror links unlikely, but pair had enough firepower to blast Atlantic City Boardwalk, officials say

ATLANTIC CITY — It was an arsenal big enough to potentially destroy at least three blocks of the famous Boardwalk and harm an innumerable number of people, officials said Tuesday, describing what police found at a South Pennsylvania Avenue house when they arrested two people last week.

Camera icon Atlantic City Police
Danielle Demers, 37, of Atlantic City is charged with attempting to sell a high-powered weapon, ammo, and five pipe bombs to police.

Police said the pair, arrested on a tip obtained by two patrol officers on Thursday, were not believed to be linked to terrorism. But an investigation was continuing, they said, with the aid of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security.

Within hours of learning that the two suspects were trying to sell weapons, police arrested Danielle Demers, 37, of Atlantic City, and Nina House, 31, of Margate.

A Savage .30-06 rifle with a scope, more than 300 rounds of .30-60 ammunition, and materials needed to make five pipe bombs were recovered. Demers also offered to provide instructions on how to assemble a pipe bomb, noting that the pipe “should be filled with nails” to act as shrapnel, police said at a news conference.

Demers and House each were charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device, possession of a destructive device for unlawful purposes, possession of an explosive substance for unlawful purpose, unlawful sale of a firearm, unlawfully teaching another to use an explosive, and conspiracy.  Each weapons charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in state prison.

Camera icon Atlantic City Police Department
Nina House, 31, of Margate, is charged with attempting to sell a high-powered weapon, ammo, and five pipe bombs to police.

Atlantic City Police Chief Henry White Jr. declined to say if officers went undercover to make the purchase. He noted that so far, officials don’t believe either suspect had plans to set off the pipe bombs or use the rifle.  The investigation is continuing to determine the source where Demers and House obtained the weapons, White said.

“We’ve seen so many incidences across the country, most recently in Las Vegas, that make us constantly reevaluate how we work with the community as a local police department to keep our city safe,” said Mayor Don Guardian. “This is an example of how important are our directed police patrols, that go into individual neighborhoods and work with members of the community.”

“To think that this amount of ammunition could have destroyed up to a three-block section of the Boardwalk and harmed so many people … it’s why we take every threat so seriously,” Guardian said after the news conference.