Kids find bomb in winhaven | RecordCourier.com
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Kids find bomb in winhaven

by Sheila Gardner

The pipe bomb which two children found in a Winhaven neighborhood was powerful enough to kill them had it exploded, a Douglas County explosives expert said Tuesday.

“This is a felony,” said Roger Wheeler, DCSO hazardous devices technician. “Whoever made this bomb knew what they were doing.”

The children – a 9-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy – first saw the pipe bomb on a boulder near a pond on Wisteria in the upscale Minden subdivision on Sunday afternoon. The girl reported their find to her grandfather, but he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t pursue the information, Wheeler said.

On Monday, the children returned to the site and picked up the device. Fortunately, Wheeler said, the bomb was not well constructed and came apart. The girl returned home with the timing apparatus and left the pipe on the rock.

Her grandfather thought it was a clock and threw it away. Later, she brought home the galvanized pipe loaded with an explosive mixture which included gunpowder and her grandfather called the sheriff’s office.

The bomb was dismantled by the Douglas County Bomb Squad on Tuesday afternoon at the landfill south of Gardnerville. It contained a timing mechanism, batteries and galvanized pipe. The pipe is 6 inches long and a half-inch in diameter.

Wheeler said the device would be examined at the lab and the investigation is continuing.

The pipe was filled with the explosive powder and caps were glued on each end.

“It would have killed her,” Wheeler said. “Depending on how she was holding it, the end caps could have hit her and blown a hole in her chest. Very likely when she first touched it, the pipe rolled away. Had it rolled the other way, it may have connected with the wires and exploded.”

Wheeler said whoever is responsible for building the pipe bomb and placing it at the pond could face felony charges of manufacturing and possession of an explosive device and attempted bombing.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Lance Modispacher advised adults to instruct children not to touch anything of a suspicious nature.

“Should someone locate a suspicious device such as this, it is best to leave the area and report the finding to the sheriff’s department. The bomb squad is trained and has the equipment to deal with these emergencies,” Modispacher said.

“Parents are urged to instruct their children not to touch anything suspicious or unusual because of obvious consequences,” he said.

The bomb was found about 40 feet from houses in the subdivision. Minden Elementary School is located a few blocks away.

“These types of devices are constructed strictly for the purpose of destroying property or injuring persons. There is no other reason for manufacturing these devices,” he said.

Modispacher said the crime may be construed as a federal offense by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Wheeler said the DCSO also would report the finding to the FBI.

The sheriff’s department is enlisting the community’s help for any information about the bomb.

“We’re looking for anybody who might have seen the bomb there or heard anyone talking about it,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler can be reached at 782-9905 or 782-9900. The Secret Witness program is offering a reward of up to $250 for information regarding the pipe bomb or any other explosive device and the persons responsible. Secret Witness can be reached at 78-CRIME or 782-7463.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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