Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Suspicious object detonated in downtown SB


Bomb squad officials detonated a suspicious object found by a passerby on Garden Street yesterday afternoon without incident.
A bomb-defusing robot launched an explosive charge at the object after placing it in a stack of sandbags, effectively rendering it harmless, Santa Barbara Police Officer Brian Sawicki said.

“It appears to be the mortar-type firework round they shoot off on the Fourth of July,” he said.
Only fragments remained after the robot set off the charge, he said, but descriptions of the object as a brownish, mushroom-shaped object with what appeared to be a fuse are in line with that type of firework.
Authorities said a man walking home from work discovered the small object after dropping his cell phone on the ground near it at approximately 4:02 p.m.
Officials evacuated buildings between Cota and Haley streets and shut down that block of Garden Street to traffic as the bomb squad moved into position.
At 6 p.m., the robot began slowly crawling down the side of the road before approaching the object, which was located near a hedge next to the Bethel Church of God in Christ at the corner of Garden and Cota streets.
After extending its arm and clamping the object in its claw, the robot backed up down the street and lowered the suspicious device into a group of sandbags. After a few adjustments and a shout of “fire in the hole,” bomb squad officials launched the charge, creating a loud explosion and leaving a distinctive scent of gunpowder in the air.
Officer Sawicki said authorities noticed a reddish flame during the explosion not typically seen that further suggests the object was a firework.
No investigation into how the device found its way onto the ground is likely, he said, and nobody reported any suspicious activity in the area. The event caused no injuries or damage, only inconveniencing numerous motorists attempting to pass through the area.

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