Local News: November 16, 2023

- Horseheads man arrested triggered state, federal discovery of explosives -

New York State Police held a press conference on Thursday about the investigation of a 43-year-old Horseheads man who is under arrest, charged with possessing explosive materials. Michael Hilliard was arrested last Saturday.

Horseheads is about 7 miles north of Elmira. Residents in a neighborhood were evacuated over the weekend after state police searched Michael Hilliard’s home. 

Miklos Szoczei is head of Troop E of the New York State Police. He was part of the press conference that included an alphabet soup of state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies. They included the FBI and the state's Contaminated Crime Scene Emergency Response Team.

 "A myriad of bomb-making equipment, volatile explosive materials, and unknown chemicals in various quantities. Some of these chemicals are known to be unstable and particularly volatile if not kept in a temperature-controlled environment," he said. 

Scoczei said the materials were safely disposed of or exploded by state and federal authorities. 

"These chemicals when interacting with one and other in the presence of explosives and other substances would have been catastrophic for the downtown area of Horseheads," he said.

State police began investigating Hilliard earlier in the week after a “remote-controlled improvised explosive device” was found in the town of Veteran. Veteran is about 10 miles north of Elmira and next to Horseheads.

When he was arrested Hilliard was driving a U-Haul van along Highway 13 heading north towards Ithaca. Scoczei said nothing dangerous was found in the van. 

"I think it was just a means of transportation for him. [WENY reporter: Do you know where he was headed?] I do but I can’t reveal that at this time," Scoszei said.

But, WENY TV reports that police on scanners said they wanted to stop the van before it got to Ithaca.

Hilliard is being held in Chemung County jail. The investigation is ongoing. A Chemung County official says more state or federal ones are likely to be filed. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said the state police press conference was on Wednesday. It was on Thursday.

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