Omaha pipe bomb arrest becomes federal case

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 8:47 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The recent investigation of an Omaha man for multiple pipe bomb vandalism crimes has become a federal case.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and FBI-Omaha arrested Kalem Barber, 23, on Dec. 3.

Barber had this initial appearance before a federal judge in Omaha on Tuesday where he was charged with unlawful possession of a destructive device and unlawful distribution of explosive materials to someone younger than age 21. If convicted, each charge would bring a $250,000 fine and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervisory release.

Prosecutors sought detention since the charges are significant and involve dangerous devices. Barber was arrested while armed and he had firearms in his home.

The defense waived a preliminary hearing but argued to allow his release for several reasons. Barber would live at his grandmother’s house, and he promised to obtain and maintain employment.

The judge found probable cause, meaning the case will proceed. He also allowed Barber’s release based on a long list of conditions including following federal, state, and local laws. Barber must also provide DNA samples if requested, appear at all court proceedings, must actively seek or maintain employment, he can’t leave Nebraska without pre-approval, and avoid all contact with any victim or witnesses.

The judge acknowledged that the charges involve serious threats to the community but Congress mandates a release if reasonable conditions are set to assure future court appearances and safety of the community. He cited several reasons for the release including the fact that Barber had no prior criminal history other than minor traffic and ordinance violations, he can be employed and has ties to the community.

The judge sternly told Barber: “Just because you’re being released, which is being recommended by pre-trial services, doesn’t mitigate how serious these allegations are. I will tell you that if there are any problems whatsoever with your compliance with these conditions, you can count on coming back to court and not being released again.”

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