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Man arraigned at hospital after device detonates in car

Items also discovered in Norwell

Joseph Brennan was arraigned at Brigham and Women's Hospital on Monday. Pool Photo/Chitose Suzuki

Joseph T. Brennan Jr.’s eyebrows, eyelashes, and the hair on his head were singed, he smelled of burnt gunpowder, and burns were visible on his face when a bystander and Quincy police met him late Saturday night.

He was also chagrined.

“I’m an idiot,’’ Brennan allegedly told the bystander. “I lit a cigarette with the gunpowder in the front seat.’’

Brennan spoke to the bystander at about 11:30 p.m., after materials inside his 2002 Toyota Camry exploded as he was driving along Falls Boulevard in Quincy, according to a police report filed in court.

A preliminary investigation of Brennan showed no connection to terrorism, but the probe is continuing, according to a law enforcement official who requested anonymity, because of not being authorized to speak on the matter.


When the gunpowder exploded, Brennan was thrown out of the car, which crashed into a wooden guardrail. The bystander rushed to Falls Boulevard after hearing the blast and found Brennan, 36, lying on the road.

The bystander helped Brennan up and guided him to the wrecked car, where Brennan allegedly removed multiple items and put them in the trunk. That was also when Brennan described himself as acting like an idiot, police said in the report.

The Boston police bomb squad was called to search Brennan’s car, where they removed 14 liquids and powders, some of which when combined could create what police called a destructive device.

Brennan was arraigned in his bed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Monday and ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on Friday in Quincy District Court. Brennan’s hands were covered by white bandages and he pulled a towel over his face as the media entered the room.

“I don’t want to be on TV,” he told the judge.

His defense attorney, Melissa Mitchell, declined to comment. Assistant Norfolk District Attorney Leah Amrhein did not offer any details of the case.


Brennan allegedly told police he had gotten various materials from a friend to tinker with. “I wasn’t going to do anything malicious,” he said, according to the report.

Following Brennan’s arraignment on the Quincy charge of possession of components of a destructive device, Norwell Police Chief Theodore Ross said in a statement that law enforcement searched Brennan’s house early Sunday morning after learning about the incident in Quincy.

Inside the Prospect Street home, Ross said, investigators found “precursor components, detonators, and one completed incendiary device.’’

Ross said his department has obtained a warrant charging Brennan with three counts of possession of a destructive device and one count of possession of materials that could make a destructive device.

The State Police and Boston police bomb squads responded as part of the investigation in Quincy and Norwell, officials said, and helped remove the dangerous materials out of Brennan’s home, which were later destroyed in a controlled detonation in a remote part of the South Shore town.

Ross noted that neighbors were not at risk during the incident. Brennan’s Facebook page showed an interest in rocket propellants.

Officials said the inquiry into Brennan’s activities led them to search a home on Back River Road in Hingham on Monday and question an occupant, Benjamin R. Young, 27. Inside, police found “a small quantity of explosives which were in violation’’ of state law, Hingham police said in a statement.


Young will be summoned to court on charges related to items found in the home, police said.

“It does not appear that the explosives found in the home were made with the intention to harm anyone,’’ police said. “There is no danger to the public. ‘’

The investigation that began with the late-night crash in Quincy involved Quincy, Hingham, and Norwell police along with the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan’s office.

Aneri Pattani can be reached at aneri.pattani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @apattani95. John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. .