Lloyd Woodson was put in handcuffs and leg shackles for his appearance in Somerset County Court Tuesday afternoon. Investigators are still piecing together why this 43-year old from Reston, Virginia came to Branchburg, New Jersey with a cache of high-powered weapons.
"People live in a community here. They don't want people walking around with devastating weapons," resident Tom Melore said.
Woodson was inside a Quick Chek at 4:00 a.m. Monday when someone called police, saying he was acting suspiciously. Turns out, he was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle in his coat that was loaded with .50 caliber bullets -- the kind normally used to destroy tanks. Woodson tried to run when police arrived, but they tackled and pepper sprayed him in a nearby trailer park, where residents are still reluctant to discuss the matter.
"Living here you never know what to expect. I didn't know what was going on," one woman said.
Police didn't know the full extent of what was going on until they searched Woodson's hotel room at the Red Mill Inn in Branchburg. There they found a grenade launcher another semiautomatic rifle with a defaced serial number, a second bulletproof vest, a Russian-made night vision scope, a police scanner, the maps, and hundreds of rounds of .50-caliber and .308-caliber ammunition.
What Woodson planned to do with the heavy-duty weapons and military gear remains unclear.
Woodson joined the Navy in his 20s and deserted after just a year.
Woodson, 43, of Reston, Va., appeared briefly before Superior Court Judge John Pursel in Somerville on Tuesday afternoon, shackled and dressed in a jail jumpsuit.
He did not speak during the two-minute proceeding except to acknowledge the judge. No defense lawyer was present, and Woodson was not asked to enter a plea.
A New Jersey judge set bail Tuesday at $75,000. He would need to post a bond of only $7,500 to get out of jail as he awaits trial. People seen as major threats usually have a higher bail amount set; prosecutors have not said how close they believe Woodson came to using his weapons.
FBI agent Bryan Travers said it appears he did not have terrorist connections, and he has not been charged with any federal crimes.