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Police think man blew himself up; family calls him gentle, smart

April 16, 2013|By Joseph Serna and Lauren Williams
  • Bomb squad personnel bag up materials from inside a home at 3152 Bermuda Drive in Costa Mesa on Monday.
Bomb squad personnel bag up materials from inside a home… (SCOTT SMELTZER )

Local police and FBI agents looked for answers -- and explosives -- in a Costa Mesa home Monday after 52-year-old Kevin Harris apparently blew himself up in a blast that shocked the quiet, suburban neighborhood where he lived alone.

His mother, Carol Harris, 82, said he had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, possibly schizophrenia.

She said that she hadn’t seen her son in three years and that the last time they spoke, he told her was disconnecting his phone because he was getting unwanted calls. She said he didn’t work and refused to let anyone enter his home.

“He was a very gentle person,” said Carol Harris, who lives in Carson, Nev.

Mark Harris, 57, said his brother was the youngest of five boys, and although the others were smart and high-achieving -- one is a professor, another a pharmacist -- Kevin was the smartest of them all.

“For us it’s very troubling that he ended this way,” Mark Harris said. “How he got off on his ideas on what you might call conspiracy theories ... it’s always been troubling to anybody who knows him because he’s so smart.”

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Authorities who combed the home said they found and detonated at least two explosive devices in the modest one-story home and later discovered a rambling and worrisome 17,000-word essay online that expressed a deep fear of government.

Police said it appears Kevin Harris intended to kill himself in the Sunday night explosion, which neighbors said sounded like a car crash or a garbage can tipping over.

Many of the homes in the neighborhood remained empty Monday as police patrolled the streets south of the 405 Freeway near Harbor Boulevard and investigators in white haz-mat suits crept through the overgrown brush in the front yard of the Bermuda Drive home.

Neighbors said Harris seemed odd yet harmless, though several said they tended to quicken their pace when they passed his home.

The essay, titled “The Pricker: A True Story of Assassination, Terrorism and High Treason,” includes references to aliens, the O.J. Simpson trial, the U.S. government and “the pricker,” which it describes as “an assassin’s weapon that deposits biological agents into a victim’s skin, on contact, without their knowledge.”

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