But on Wednesday, students at his former school told agents that he paid at least two students about $50 an hour between October and January to break up fireworks and store the powder from them, said the complaint, which didn't say what the goal of the bomb was. The U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI and the NY police announced the charges Thursday evening.
The investigation that ultimately led to the Toro brothers began December 4, when a bomb threat was called into the Harlem charter school where Christian Toro worked, according to the complaint and John J. Miller, the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, who spoke at the news conference with de Blasio.
Christian Toro is also accused of distributing explosive materials to two individuals under the age of 21 in the Bronx, according to the complaint. According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement officials have been monitoring Christian Toro's activities for months and made a decision to move in Thursday in the wake of recent events.
A search of the apartment on Thursday found potassium nitrate, black powder identified as an explosive material, metal spheres and other bomb components, according to the document.
Afterward, Christian and Tyler Toro returned the laptop that the school had provided to the teacher, and a technical specialist found a copy on the laptop of a book called "The Explosives Book" that provides instruction for making explosives the complaint said.
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Law enforcement agents also found a backpack with a diary notated with the words "Operation Flash" and an index card saying "Under the full moon the small ones will know terror". Toro allegedly had students do this from October 2017 until early January 2018.
"Information from citizens stopped a significant threat to public safety", said FBI New York division assistant director Bill Sweeney.
On Thursday, police searched the two brothers' apartment in New York's Bronx neighborhood. Investigators uncovered the plots after speaking with students at the school. It said: "If you're registered as a sex offender, things will be hard". But I am here 100 percent, living, buying weapons. The front of the diary said it belonged to Tyler Toro.
Raymond Del Villar, 20, who lives in apartment across from the brothers, said he was on his way to school when he saw up to 20 detectives in the hallway, and his neighbors in handcuffs near the elevator several feet away on Thursday morning. "They were college educated, they held the door for you whenever they saw you". Yet although law enforcement hasn't revealed a specific target or motive for the plan, there was enough evidence for federal charges.
"This is a moment to remind all New Yorkers, to remind everyone, that the idea that if you see something, you say something is more pertinent than ever", de Blasio said.