Andrew Marshall: Miami's Unabomber, Part 2

For details about Marshall's childhood, injury, and lawsuits against the city, see Part 1.

Andrew Marshall sat in the doctor's office, miserable. As nurse Chandra Wilson took his blood pressure, the small man with a dark mop of hair and a scraggly beard complained of piercing back pain caused by a work accident nearly two years earlier. His injury had cost him his job with the City of Miami, he said. It had also damaged his health. He couldn't sleep and had trouble walking.

It was December 2003, and doctors had ordered a psychiatric evaluation. Marshall admitted to the nurse that unless he got help, his rage might become "destructive."

"What do you mean, 'destructive'?" Wilson asked.

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Dinner Key Marina

3400 Pan American Drive
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Coconut Grove


"I know how to make bombs and silencers," he answered. "How's that for destructive?"

But Marshall's anger and destructive urges went unchecked. Over the next three and a half years, they would grow exponentially, carrying the brilliant but frail outcast from upper-class New Yorker to man at the breaking point. (For details about Marshall's childhood, injury, and lawsuits against the city, see Part 1.)

"Andrew got angry and depressed and made some mistakes," says friend David Bricker, who in 2003 lived on a boat near Marshall's in a free mooring area next to Dinner Key Marina.

Beginning in January 2007, Marshall began acting on the destructive impulses he had confessed to Wilson. He purchased an arsenal including a grenade launcher, 15 grenade casings, an unarmed rocket, fuses, two assault rifles, and a sniper rifle with a laser sight — mostly online. He also bought chemicals to make explosive powder.

He began issuing threats May 11, 2007, when U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez refused to block authorities from booting freeloaders like Marshall from the Dinner Key anchorage. Marshall, who had sued the state to stop the eviction, was pissed. The next day on the marina's website, he wrote, "The Courts mostly disregard the law and constitutional rights nowadays, and their... example must be followed... Shooting tyrants is not a legal right. It's a natural right — the exact same right the powerful and influential have to destroy and kill the rabble — if they can get away with it." He included a photo of himself with a gun, but quickly removed it.

On May 23, when Martinez finally dismissed the case against the state, Marshall stood up in court and shouted angrily at the judge.

A month later, Miami Police conducted a surprise inspection of Marshall's 30-foot fiberglass sailboat. The scrawny, scruffy Marshall courteously invited them aboard, even loaning one officer three DVDs about how 9/11 was a government plot. Cops noticed a (legally owned) shotgun and loose ammunition on the boat. On Marshall's bed sat a laptop and printer. One officer also reported seeing a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, the Vietnam-era guide to do-it-yourself explosives.

When cops returned eight days later with an undercover FBI agent, Marshall again welcomed them. But the second visit wasn't as friendly. According to court documents, Marshall showed off a powerful black sniper rifle with a scope. He also "displayed a pineapple grenade with holes on the top and bottom. Mr. Marshall then displayed a firing pin for the pineapple grenade. The officers asked if the firing pin worked, and Mr. Marshall pulled the pin and a spark was created," according to a search warrant affidavit. When the FBI agent said that all the grenade needed was explosive powder, Marshall nodded in agreement.

After leaving the boat, FBI agents decided Marshall was dangerous. Their investigation had already revealed that he had recently bought five pounds of potassium nitrate and one pound of sulfur: the main ingredients in explosive powder. He had also bought fuses, grenade casings, and a precision scale. FBI explosives experts reasoned that Marshall could easily convert his inert grenades into "active destructive device[s]." Authorities decided to act.

On the afternoon of July 6, two dozen FBI agents and Miami Police confronted Marshall as he stepped out of a Starbucks in Coconut Grove. They raided his boat as well as a storage unit he had rented for years off South Dixie Highway just blocks from the marina. There they found two AK-47s, a sniper rifle, grenade launchers, and dozens of manuals on everything from sniper training to chemical/biological warfare. One manual was titled "The Advanced Anarchist Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives."

The feds also found four baffles for gun silencers and a mechanical lathe Marshall had used to make them. Under interrogation, the former dockworker confessed to making the silencers but claimed he had made them at least three years earlier. He said he had planned to sell them before realizing it was illegal. He was charged with receiving explosive materials, making firearms (the silencers) without a license, and possessing unregistered and unmarked firearms (again, the silencers). In Florida, however, owning an AK-47 or inert grenade isn't against the law, and the explosives charge was later dropped.

In jail, Marshall became the lawyer his Madison Avenue corporate attorney father had expected him to be. He dismissed one public defender after another, deciding to represent himself instead. In court documents, he claimed he was planning to resell the "militaria" online and that he was making "black powder" for pyrotechnics. But his countless motions only dragged the case out for four years. Some of his hundreds of courtroom statements were later used against him. This past August 3, a jury found Marshall guilty on all five counts. He will be sentenced just after Thanksgiving. Maximum possible: ten years in prison.

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WOW disregard my comment please and read the level headed version of what i wish I could have said below by dave Bricker!. Damn the insatiable need for emotions to override my ability to get my point across clearly and concisely.


WOOo somebody who tried to use our system the right way hit the wall of heartless stupidty and got tired and went to solving problems the only way the big fat morons listen but unfortunately their pockets are too deep people are to complacent and ignorant sure maybe he was crazy but doesn't change the fact that we are all crazy too sometimes and some of us just get fed up with the bullshit. One day alot more people may turn to that path if they get as fed up as he did ouch.....wonder what would happen awwwe just a nasty situation....

Dave Bricker
Dave Bricker

This one's better, Mr.Miller. It sounds more like you're letting your characters tell their story instead of casting them in some fantastic play. Will you allow the tragedy of Andrew Marshall's alleged descent into violence to create a smokescreen for the legally disconnected matter of whether the City of Miami denied him access to just compensation, public records and fair hearings? Though I won't stand as an apologist for anyone's violent intentions, do Marshall's incarceration, conviction and post-pepper-spray mugshot automatically negate the validity of the charges Marshall filed against Florida DEP and the City of Miami? Marshall ground himself down trying to fight something he thought was important—and he was no dummy.

My own direct experiences with the City of Miami and the State of Florida failing to respond to some (but admittedly not all) of my records requests, denying me standing to petition for a redress of grievances and bypassing due process are a matter of record. After Andrew Marshall was arrested, I sold my boat, abandoned my website (the unfulfilled records requests and other documents are still posted there), withdrew from waterfront politics and dismissed any lingering fantasies that I live in a fair democracy. I don't want to own a gun and I frankly have intelligent people and worthwhile causes to engage with on fairer playing fields. Others will have to decide whether the loss of an advocate for constructive dialog and public process is of any consequence to Miami's waterfront.

As previously stated, Marshall's conduct and the City of Miami's are legally disconnected matters. Whether circumstances would have been different if Andrew Marshall had gotten a fair trial and a chance to present his evidence long ago is a matter of conjecture. Neither party's wrong makes the other right, but after casting Andrew Marshall as "Miami's Unabomber," I challenge you to report objectively on what just may be the bigger picture.

Sir Sausage
Sir Sausage

$5 says the "grenade launcher" was actually a 37mm flare launcher.

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