ATF arrests man trying to sell explosives out of minivan at Hooters

Published On: Jun 29 2012 04:16:42 PM PDT   Updated On: Jun 29 2012 06:42:14 PM PDT
Peter Westhaver mugshot

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested a man at the Hooters restaurant in Spokane Valley Thursday afternoon in a sting which netted more than 5,000 "ping pong ball bombs" the suspect was trying to sell an undercover agent.

Peter Ward Westhaver, 53, was arrested on a charge of dealing in explosives without a license Thursday. Westhaver, according to court records, attempted to sell the explosives, which he claimed to have manufactured, to an undercover agent.

In late May the ATF became involved in the investigation when they received several explosive devices that were about the size of a ping pong ball and contained 36 grams of flash powder and had a pyrotechnic fuse inserted in them.

Tests confirmed they were devices commonly referred to as "ping pong ball bombs."

Subsequent investigation found that Westhaver did not have an ATF license to manufacture or deal in explosives, nor did he have a license to manufacture explosives in Washington.

Thursday afternoon a meeting was set up at Hooters in Spokane Valley between Westhaver and an undercover ATF agent. During the meeting, Westhaver talked with the undercover agent about his explosive-manufacturing operation.

After about 45 minutes inside the restaurant, the undercover agent and Westhaver went outside to his Ford Windstar minivan, he mentioned he had the explosives inside his minivan.

He was immediately arrested and the ATF agent, along with a Spokane County Sheriff's deputy, opened the minivan to find 18 Home Depot buckets, each filled with 300 of the ping pong ball bombs with the fuse attached. There were approximately 5,400 of the devices in all.

Westhaver has a 1992 drug conviction out of Snohomish County and a 2005 child molestation conviction in Spokane County. He was subsequently ordered to register as a sex offender.

He is currently in custody in the Spokane County Jail. He made his initial appearance in federal court Friday; his bail hearing is set for July 5.