Saturday bomb scare closes 395 in Minden
July 14, 2008
Highway 395 at the north end of Minden was closed for two hours Saturday while bomb squad officials checked out a suspicious vehicle parked at Stewart Title after the driver was arrested on traffic charges.
No bomb was located, and the driver of the car, a self-proclaimed member of “the U.S. Militia,” was charged with obstructing a public officer and driving the vehicle without insurance and license plates.
John Robert Pierson, 56, was jailed on $1,500 cash bail.
After his arrest, the Nevada Highway Patrol contacted the Tahoe-Douglas bomb squad because of wires and switches inside the red 1992 Toyota four-door sedan that bore paper license plates reading “United States Militia.”
The highway was closed from 4 to 6 p.m. between Lucerne Street and Highway 88 and businesses evacuated while officers checked out the vehicle.
Deputies said wires were coming from the hood of the vehicle on the driver’s side.
The wires went around the driver’s side into the passenger compartment.
On the passenger side of the center console, there was a household light switch with what appeared to be a power converter.
Business cards were found listing Pierson as the president of the U.S. Militia along with a set of California plates.
At his arrest, Pierson yelled obscenities at the highway patrol officer and made an obscene gesture.
Pierson appeared in East Fork Justice Court on Monday and told Judge Jim EnEarl he didn’t recognize the authority of the court. He was surrounded by a half dozen deputies and bailiffs.
“You are holding me illegally,” said Pierson, who claimed his real name is John C. Kennedy.
“I don’t recognize your court,” he said.
Pierson claimed he hadn’t eaten for three days because the jail was poisoning his food.
EnEarl appointed lawyer Derrick Lopez to represent him.
“I will not accept any representation,” Pierson told the judge. “You can go to hell, too.”
Deputies said based on Pierson’s behavior at the scene and the condition of the car, they believed the vehicle posed a public risk.
Area businesses were evacuated, and traffic stopped while bomb squad members evaluated the car.
Affected businesses included McDonald’s, Taco John’s, AM-PM Mini Mart, and two shopping centers.
Officers said wires extended from the vehicle’s battery to the switch that was connected to a power inverter/outlet.
“It appeared that Pierson desired to have additional power points in his vehicle and the ability to turn it off and on at will,” deputies said in their report.
Tracy Cranney, who lives in Winhaven and got caught in the traffic backup Saturday, said she was relieved there was no bomb.
“Imagine if one had gone off,” she said. “You’re sitting there thinking 9/11 and terrorists. We live right there on Lantana. My husband and I were just like, ‘Oh, My God. We don’t have any cushion.'”
The vehicle was released to the Nevada Highway Patrol and was towed.