Residents of two apartment buildings on the 1100 block of 12th Street in Santa Monica were evacuated shortly after 7 p.m. on May 18, after Santa Monica Police found two small pipe bombs in a 16-year-old boy’s bedroom. Los Angeles County Bomb Squad officials were called in and safely detonated both devices as the boy was taken into police custody.
The discovery was a result of a probation officer’s unscheduled check-in with the young man. The Santa Monica official requested assistance from Santa Monica Police Department officers in the search of the teenage Santa Monica student’s house. During the search of the minor’s bedroom, two small, home-made explosive devices were found. Encased in PVC pipe and approximately 3-inches long each, the homemade explosives were essentially small pipe bombs.
“At this point, there is nothing to indicate that the young man had any ill intentions other than being a young man,” said Sgt. Richard Lewis, public information officer for the Santa Monica Police Department. “At the end of the day, it may just be that this was a kid making his own fireworks. But we won’t know one way or the other until [the assigned law officials] complete their investigation.”
Other dangerous objects were also found in the young man’s room, including M-80s, a potato gun, and illegal prescription drugs (described as a controlled substance). Investigators also found ammonia nitrate, a substance found in many fertilizers that can be used in explosives.
“Several illegal fireworks were also found,” said Lewis, adding that they were commercially manufactured. When asked if the illegal fireworks were purchased across state or country borders, Lewis said, “He claims he actually got them closer than that.”
The entire 9-unit apartment building was evacuated, along with half of a neighboring building’s tenants whose apartments were closest to the boy’s room. The bomb squad detonated the small pipe-bombs on the premises in a controlled apparatus. The Santa Monica Fire Department were also on scene to help with the evacuations. Investigators also confiscated the young man’s computers, some books, and printed articles on explosives.
As of press time, the minor remains in custody at a juvenile detention center, Charges were filed this week with the Juvenile District Attorney’s office in Inglewood, which include felony use and possession of a destructive devise, possession of ingredients to make a destructive devise, possession of a firearm by a minor, possession of a deadly weapon (the potato launcher), under the influence and possession of a controlled substance (Xanax), and unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle. All of these charges constitute a probation violation.