Bomb squad clears Streeterville apartment of explosive compound after man found dead inside

Officers were conducting a follow-up investigation at a building in the 200 block of East Illinois Street after a man’s death early Wednesday, Chicago police said.

SHARE Bomb squad clears Streeterville apartment of explosive compound after man found dead inside
Emergency crews respond to the scene of a hazmat situation March 24, 2021, in the 200 block of East Illinois Street.

Emergency crews respond to the scene of a hazmat situation March 24, 2021, in the 200 block of East Illinois Street.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A Streeterville building was partially evacuated Wednesday after a bomb squad found explosive compounds in an apartment where a man was found dead earlier that morning.

Officers conducting a follow-up investigation on the man’s death found hazardous materials about 4 p.m. at an apartment in the 200 block of East Illinois Street, Chicago police said.

In a statement Thursday, police said one of the chemicals found in the apartment was lead azide, a volatile substance used as a detonator in explosives.

A police spokesperson couldn’t confirm a report claiming pipe bombs were found inside.

The man who lived there, 30-year-old Theodore Hilk, was pronounced dead about 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy was pending

In a televised interview Thursday morning, CPD Supt. David Brown said the body already was “decomposing” when it was discovered.

Responding officers became ill due to “a strong odor,” Brown said, and “officers actually began getting sick,” so Chicago Fire Department hazardous materials workers were summoned.

“It was a little bit of a hoarding type of situation, so things everywhere, not very organized,” Brown said, making a search difficult. “There was a very difficult time trying to find out where this substance was that was making people sick.”

Eventually, Brown said, it was determined there were “bomb-making substances and material inside the apartment, but it was thrown throughout the apartment, not organized in any way.”

Two floors in the building were evacuated, and the FBI was called to the scene alongside officers from the Chicago Police SWAT team and bomb unit, police said.

Chicago police spokesman Tom Ahern would not elaborate on the nature of the materials found but said specialty units “contained the items found in the apartment” and were going to “take them and render them safe.”

Police said the scene was cleared by 11 p.m. and the materials were “disposed of” less than an hour later.

Azide “is highly explosive,” Brown said. “We removed the material from the home, so the area is safe for the public.”

Contributing: David Struett

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