OCALA, Fla. – A man was arrested after authorities allegedly found the deadly toxin ricin (search) stashed in a cardboard box at his home along with a small cache of weapons, officials said Thursday.
Steven Michael Ekberg (search), 22, faces up to 10 years if convicted of possession of a biological agent.
FBI agents said they didn't believe Ekberg, arrested Wednesday, had any connection with terrorist groups.
There was no explanation for how or why he obtained the ricin.
"The chemical substance is derived from the castor bean, and that's a natural substance. I don't think castor beans are difficult to obtain," said FBI Special Agent Jeff Westcott in Jacksonville.
The suspect's mother, who lives with her son, told reporters that he is "not a bad kid."
"He's not a terrorist," Theresa Ekberg told the Ocala Star-Banner. "Sometimes kids make bad choices. ... That's all I can say."
The sheriff's office was tipped off last week by an informant who alleged Ekberg had been carrying concealed weapons into clubs — and boasted of having ricin in one of several vials and glass tubes he allegedly showed off.
"Ekberg had stated that if the government ever did anything to him, he would take some sort of action," according to a federal criminal complaint.
Ekberg was arrested and released last week for alleged possession of cocaine and violating the concealed weapons law.
A search of his home then revealed a cardboard box with ricin inside, as well as an Uzi-type submachine gun and two semiautomatic rifles, a sheriff's report said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (search), as little as 500 micrograms of ricin, roughly the amount that fits on the head of a straight pin, is enough to kill an adult.