C-4, other military-grade explosives found at home of former Creation Museum officer

People enter and exit the new Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., Thursday, May 24, 2007.
People enter and exit the new Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., Thursday, May 24, 2007. AP

A former public safety officer for the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., was arrested in Florida after officials discovered he had military-grade explosives and weapons in his home, according to media reports.

Officials were called to the home of Joel Ryals, 41, after a package labeled “C-4 explosive” was found at his home by his wife, Spectrum Bay News 9 in Florida reported. Following a search of the home by Polk County deputies, several firearms, explosives and firearm silencers were found, the Bradenton Herald reported.

The Army Criminal Investigations Division also found military radio communication equipment, a U.S. Army compass, weapon optics, AR bolts, 14 explosives, and 27 firearms, including handguns, shotguns and AR-style rifles, the Bradenton Herald reported.

Ryals was charged March 13 with 14 counts of possession of explosives requiring a license.

From June 2015 to January 2017, Ryals served as a public safety officer for the Creation Museum in Kentucky, Bay News 9 reported. He was let go from his position, a museum spokesperson told Bay News 9.

Prior to his job with the Creation Museum, he was a deputy sheriff in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida from August 2006 to March 2013. He was a volunteer training office with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi from 2016 until his arrest, Bay News 9 said.

Despite the dangerous weapons in his home, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told Bay News 9 there are no indications he was preparing for an attack.

“He seems to have been the kind of guy that was a doomsday prepper that was collecting this stuff,” Judd said.

“He has not yet displayed any proclivity to be violent, but if that changed, he would have all of the hardware to have bombs, a major, major event. Or someone break into his house and have all of this horrible equipment,” Judd concluded.

Ryals was taken into custody in Newton County, Mississippi, where he was conducting a K-9 training for a local law enforcement agency, the Bradenton Herald said.

Despite time served in the Army and the Florida National Guard, he did not have certifications to train K-9s or a license to possess military-grade explosives, according to the Bradenton Herald.

There was no reason for him to have the equipment, Polk told Bay News 9.

“In the wrong hands, we could’ve had a big bomb in a location with lots of people,” Judd said. “You can’t believe this stuff. You just can’t believe it.”

Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson