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Is Jose Del Rio of East Austin, Texas, a heroic defender of the Second Amendment or paranoid schizophrenic? His neighbors thought the 70-year-old wildcatter was a nuisance for building a multilevel “basement” under his 586 square foot castle. Complaints led to a search warrant and a sweep of the property by a police SWAT team, bomb squad and fire department search and rescue personnel. Who discovered…

weapons, inert grenades, and empty 55-gallon drums – the kind that can be filled with fertilizer and turned into bombs. Claudia Grisales of┬áthe Austin American-Statesman reports that:

Jose Del Rio, a Vietnam War veteran, built a “multilevel” structure about 20 to 25 feet below the home, said Doug Matthews, director of communications for the City of Austin . . .

Among the items recovered from the home were several weapons, inert grenades and 55-gallon barrels, which turned out to be empty, Matthews said. No charges have been filed in the case, police officials said. It was not clear whether Del Rio will face code violations, which could result in fines, Matthews said . . .

Melissa Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Code Compliance Department for the City of Austin, said “this is the first time we’ve dealt with this kind of excavation.” She said the deepest part of the bunker was 35 feet below the surface.

Martinez said that finding out why the bunker was built was not a priority during the search of the home. She said a motive might be determined Thursday, when several city departments are scheduled to meet to decide what will happen next . . .

Attempts to reach Del Rio or listed relatives were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Del Rio is now living with family, Martinez said. “He won’t be coming home for a while.”

Like they say, everything’s bigger in Texas – even the kooks.

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  1. Oh no! Should I be worried? I have 3 55 gallon containers at my house that could be "filled with fertilizer and turned into bombs."

    Of course, I call them "trash cans." (rolling eyes.)

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