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Bomb found in boy’s locker

Authorities say combination of household items would not have caused much damage to school.

December 12, 2007|By Joseph Serna and Kelly Strodl

An Ensign Intermediate School seventh grader was arrested Tuesday after bringing a bomb on campus, police said.

Newport Beach police took the 12-year-old boy into custody on suspicion of possession of an explosive device, Sgt. Evan Sailor said.

The boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, is being held in protective custody at Orange County Juvenile Hall.

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The suspect was caught with a plastic bottle that had a household powder and liquid inside and regular batteries, authorities said.

The two chemicals, when mixed together basically expand and explode in an enclosed container, Orange County Sheriff’s Bomb Squad said. The batteries, though, “were just thrown in there,” and would have no effect on the chemical reaction of the bomb, Bomb Squad Sgt. Randy Sterett said.

“This was not an acid bomb and won’t take down a second floor of the school,” Sterett said. And, had the chemicals in the device mixed it still wouldn’t have caused a life-threatening blast, Sterett said.

“It would have hurt his hand and could get in his eye, but nobody’s going to die from this; it’s not going to start a fire,” Sterett said. “We get calls like this once a week and they never make the news.”

Even though the chemicals were not mixed to react, making a bomb is a felony, Sterett added.

“It’s still a bomb, just because it isn’t lit doesn’t mean it’s not a bomb,” he said.

The suspect’s identity came as a shock to students.

“You wouldn’t have thought it was him because he is so quiet. He doesn’t seem to bother people,” said eighth-grader Cody Hardesty, who has a class with the suspect. “He seems so innocent. He’s really nice. Very rarely would I think that he would be the kid to do that.”

The campus was in lockdown for more than two hours after an eighth-grade boy reported a suspicious package about 11:15 a.m., Sailor said.

The boy, whose name is being withheld for safety reasons, took some of the suspicious powder to a teacher, thinking it was drugs, police said. Administrators soon notified authorities. The campus officer detained the boy while he was serving a detention, authorities said.

Students were eventually evacuated to the campus field. After the materials were found and confiscated, students were sent back to class about 2 p.m. Parents had not been officially notified of the incident in the hours following the evacuation, but dozens gathered at the school after receiving cell phone calls from their children.

District officials said they only notify parents when a credible threat has been confirmed.

“Lately, so much stuff is going on everywhere else you kind of don’t take it for granted that it’s not real. You kind of assume this could really be happening,” parent Kay Ridgeway said.


JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com. KELLY STRODL may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at kelly.strodl@latimes.com.

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