Tampa agents aid in panhandle jail explosion investigation - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Tampa agents aid in panhandle jail explosion investigation

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Federal investigators from Tampa are in the panhandle working with authorities there to determine what caused the blast behind bars that killed two inmates and injured countless others at the Escambia County Jail in Pensacola.

Agents from Tampa's Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms office are participating in the investigation.

David Brown is the assistant special agent in charge.

"At this point, we've just built out logistically, we have heavy equipment coming in,” said Brown. "Our national response team arrived this morning. We had our initial briefing, we're still waiting on some additional equipment to come in before we begin processing the scene."

Brown says a number of experts will be arriving in the coming days to aid in the investigation.

"We have senior or veteran ATF agents, we have certified fire investigators, we have explosives specialists," said Brown. "We have folks from our lab who come out here. We have fire research specialists and so on and so forth that come out. "

The explosion happened late Wednesday night in the booking area of the detention center. Authorities believe the torrential rains that flooded the facility may have been a contributing factor, but they say it's really too early to tell.

Two inmates died, and another 184 inmates and corrections officers were injured by the flying debris.

County officials identified the victims who died as Robert Earl Simmons, 54, of McDavid, Florida, just north of Pensacola, and David Paul Weinstein, 45.

Weinstein didn't have a panhandle address, but further investigation revealed he had a warrant for his arrest out of Hillsborough County for failing to pay child support. Deputies in Polk County had also arrested Weinstein.

Authorities say the investigation into what caused that explosion could take days.

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