After explosion in field, neighbors saw a man drive away, cops say. He’s been arrested

An explosion in an open Sarasota County field witnessed by neighbors led to a Sarasota man’s arrest.

Neighbors reported to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office that they saw Michael Schlabach, 26, drive up to a 55-gallon drum in a field near his under-construction property in the 4700 block of Greenwich Road on Saturday.

Shortly after, the neighbors reported hearing an explosion and seeing a plume of white smoke from the metal drum. One of the neighbors told investigators they could feel the explosion from more than 500 yards away, according to the probable cause affidavit.

They then noticed Schlabach drive off in an ATV before getting into a truck that was parked at his property and leave the area.

No one was injured in the explosion, nor was any property damaged, according to the sheriff’s office.

The neighbors walked over to the drum and saw pieces of a plastic jug and a black mortar fiberglass tube.

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Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

Deputies and members of the Hazardous Devices Unit arrived and collected evidence from the explosion.

Schlabach was arrested and charged with discharging a destructive device and violation of probation. He is on felony probation for a previous battery charge, according to the sheriff’s office.

Schlabach remained in jail as of Thursday on a $5,000 bond.

Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.