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Charges issued in Friday's deadly home explosion

Terrell Cooks, 37, and Seneca Mahan, 43, have each been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Charges have been issued against two men in the deadly home explosion that killed four people and wounded others, St. Louis County police said. 

Terrell Cooks, 37, and Seneca Mahan, 43, have each been charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. 

Both men are also charged with unlawful possession of an illegal weapon. Cooks is charged with two counts and Mahan is charged with one. 

“There’s a big difference between a little Black Cat firecracker and the items that were allegedly being manufactured in this home," said ATF spokesman John Ham.  "Those would rise to the level of an improvised explosive device.”

According to the probable cause statements for Cooks and Mahan, both men were in charge of a business illegally using explosives to make ground salutes, a form of firework that emits a loud noise and bright flash of light when ignited.

Credit: St. Louis County Police Department
Seneca Mahan, left, and Terrell Cooks, right, charged in deadly home explosion

The statement said the business was run in the garage at 6680 Parker Road in north St. Louis County, where the victims of the explosion were working under the direction and supervision of Cooks and Mahan to make the ground salutes. Cooks and Mahan admitted to police that the victims were working with supplies they provided the victims with to make the ground salutes.

"The powders that are inside, and the chemical compositions that are inside, are so unstable that static electricity could set them off," said Ham. “It takes just a very, very small amount of these powders to have deadly consequences.”

At about 1:30 a.m. Friday, an explosion occurred at the home, destroying both the garage and the home, damaging the homes of some neighbors and spreading debris all around the home. The explosion also damaged two vehicles parked 50 feet away from the home.

Credit: KSDK
Two vehicles damaged by home explosion.

On Saturday evening, St. Louis County police confirmed the deaths of four people from the explosion.

Two people, 21-year-old William Jones and 18-year-old Demario Cooks were found dead at the scene, determined to have died in the explosion. Another victim, 17-year-old Christopher Jones, was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries, according to St. Louis County police. 

Police confirmed Sunday a fourth person died due to severe injuries after the above charges were issued against Cooks and Mahan, presumed to be 16-year-old Travell Easton, whose death was reported Saturday evening. 

Other people were injured in the explosion, but it is unclear at this time how many people were involved and the severity.

Neither Cooks nor Mahan has a license to make fireworks or work with explosives, according to the probable cause statements. 

Mahan was at the residence at the time of the explosion and suffered minor injuries. Cooks was not present at the time of the explosion.

According to Cooks' probable cause statement, he was seen by St. Louis County police on Friday moving larges boxes of chemicals used to manufacture explosives into a car and multiple people identified him as being a "leader" of the explosives business. The statement said a search of vehicles associated with Cooks and a residence of Cooks' found "large quantities of explosive weapons and components to manufacture them."

Cooks and Mahan are being held on a $350,000 cash-only bond with no 10% allowed. 

    

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