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Sentence in WMD Case

Uncontrolled, however, this material could be dangerous. Atkins knew this and told his family he was using the material to end his life, knowing he would harm anyone who tried to stop him.

After driving around with the radiological material in his car, Atkins went back to his apartment and engaged in a standoff with law enforcement.

“The energy coming from this material is pretty powerful, and everyone on our team wanted to be out there doing what we were trained to do to protect the community from it,” said Special Agent Jay Henze, one of the bomb techs in the FBI Phoenix Field Office at the time.

The situation created a dual challenge: to safely arrest Atkins and to safely contain the material. This required significant coordination and teamwork across agencies.

The investigative team—which included the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and Phoenix Police Department, with support from the FBI Phoenix Stabilization Task Force and laboratory and intelligence analysts—set up a command post at a nearby fire station and came up with a plan. First, they had to verify the radiological material was in Atkins’ car. Bomb techs broke the window of the car and verified all three devices were there.

After consulting with experts at the U.S. Department of Energy and other scientists, bomb techs then used specialized equipment to secure the material. The devices were then sent to a laboratory for analysis and evidence preservation.

After a two-hour standoff, the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI convinced Atkins to surrender.