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Hagerstown woman finds makeshift bomb parts near home

February 26, 2002|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Katrina Needy was leaving her home Sunday evening when she saw pieces of a 2-liter soda bottle and aluminum foil on the ground and on the hood of her car at Londontowne townhomes east of Hagerstown.

"It looked like a bottle exploded," she said.

She notified police, and Jim Woods, a bomb technician with the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office, identified the debris as a homemade bomb.

Woods advised people not to touch strange trash and to avoid bottles that appear to be swollen or bubbling.

"It just looked like trash lying there," said Needy.

Woods said the device was a "McGuyver bomb," such as that demonstrated on the 1980s television show of that name in which a crime-solving scientist got out of trouble by building bombs and other devices using duct tape and materials on hand.

The bombs can be constructed with acid and aluminum foil, and instructions can be found on the Internet, he said.

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No one was injured and there was no visible property damage but there could have been, Woods said.

"When it exploded it threw acid in all directions," said Woods.

Needy, who has three children, said she worries about what might have happened.

"It scares me to think someone is out there doing this. Someone could have gotten hurt," she said.

Woods said the bomb Needy found was one of two placed in a prominent, high-traffic area in the complex. One was found between parked cars along the 1800 block of Abbey Lane. The other bomb was found on a side yard off Queen Anne's Court, near the intersection with Bentley Court.

The bombs detonate quickly and are dangerous because the acid they contain could cause blindness if it hit someone in the eye. The pressure of such a bomb, if planted inside a mailbox, could throw the mailbox 40 to 50 feet, he said.

Woods said he had no leads but planned to investigate the incident fully, he said.

He said he doesn't think the bombs had anything to do with Sept. 11.

"I think the terrorists are far more sophisticated than that," he said.

Similar bottle bombs were found about three years ago in Pennsylvania, Hagerstown and Clear Spring. Some juvenile arrests were made and the incidents died down, Woods said.

Anyone with information about the bombs may contact the Fire Marshal's Office at 301-791-4758 or 1-410-859-7152.

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