Update: Man pleads not guilty to charges of possessing weapons, explosives

An Opelika, Ala., man accused of possessing five dangerous weapons and five destructive devices told police that he just liked to hear a big bang with items seized Wednesday from his 1999 Dodge Durango, a Columbus police officer testified in Recorder’s Court Friday.

John Mullen, 42, pleaded not guilty to all 10 charges during a hearing before Recorder’s Court Judge Mary Buckner. She ordered Mullen held on bonds totaling $50,000 and bound all charges over to Muscogee Superior Court.

A police search of Mullen’s vehicle in a church parking lot at 12th Avenue and 49th Street led to officers locating five improvised explosive devices and five weapons, including a .410 gauge-sawed off shotgun, two .22-caliber pistols, a Mac 10 automatic pistol, and a 5.56 assault-type rifle along with silencers and ammunition.

Will Basset, an agent with the Special Operations Unit, said he was going to assist other officers about suspicious vehicles in the church parking lot near Charlie Hill Park. In the lot, officers noticed an occupied vehicle with fogged windows about 9:30 p.m.

Mullen, who was homeless and served in the Marines, came out of the back door of the vehicle on the driver’s side. He was in the vehicle with a woman identified as his girlfriend. When police asked if there were any weapons in the vehicle, Mullen first said no but then mentioned the rifle on the back seat. Officers then found the other weapons.

Mullen told officers there also were three Co2 bombs and a firecracker type explosive in the glove box. A fifth device, a hand grenade, also was located inside the vehicle. He told officers the devices were homemade. “He said he just liked a big bang,” Basset told the judge.

Mullen was represented by public defender Charles Lykins. When the attorney asked police about the four gun silencers, Basset said three were homemade and the one for the Mac 10 was given to Mullen.

Police didn’t identify the girlfriend but a woman in the courtroom identified herself as Karlettia Collier of Columbus. The couple have dated since December. Collier said they were in the parking lot to hang out before Valentine’s Day.

“I didn’t know why they questioned us,” Collier said. “We were just sitting in the truck.”

Collier said a statement by a police officer at the scene suggested she was a prostitute, but that’s not true.

“They started asking me all kinds of questions,” she said. “I didn’t see a reason for them to search the vehicle. We were just sitting there. I never felt unsafe with him. He is a very sweet person.”

Sheila Mullen, the suspect’s ex-wife, also was at the court. She said the couple were married for 10 years but grew apart before they divorced in 2003. They have three children.

She’s shocked to learn about the charges. “I was shocked because they are making him out to be such a bad person and he is not,” she said. “We had a wonderful marriage. We just grew apart from each other. We have a great relationship.”

Sheila said her ex-husband would never hurt anyone. “He’s a collector of guns,” she said. “He would come over and say Sheila look what I got.”

She blamed bad timing on the arrest because of all the talk about school shootings and gun control. “Timing is definitely an issue on this situation,” she said.