Two men charged in 'prank that went awry'

July 30, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Two people were charged late Wednesday in connection with a homemade explosive device that was placed inside a newspaper vending machine in Martinsburg, which roused neighbors and sounded like a "huge explosion," a police official said.

Dustin Wayne Stout, 22, of no fixed address, was charged with criminal use of a destructive device, explosive material or incendiary device.

Andrew Lee Pauley, 18, of 727 W. King St., Martinsburg, was charged with illegal possession of a destructive device.

Martinsburg Police Department Chief Ted Anderson said the explosive device detonated at around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday inside a newspaper box at the corner of South Kentucky Avenue and West John Street.


Anderson, who was at a nearby house at the time, said he was one of several people who walked outside to see what happened.

"It sounded like a huge explosion," he said. "Smoke was rolling out of that thing."

Anderson said he saw a Ford station wagon leaving quickly from the area. He stopped the car on John Street.

Once the car was stopped, officers found another explosive device inside, Anderson said. It was a soda bottle that had duct tape wrapped around the top and a fuse in place. A substance inside was possibly gunpowder, police said.

A similar device was likely what was placed in the vending machine, police said.

Police believe someone put 50 cents into the machine, opened the door and then threw in the explosive device after lighting the fuse.

"Obviously they didn't think what the outcome of this could've been," Anderson said. "I think it was a prank that went awry."

After conferring with members of the Loudoun Co. (Va.) Bomb Squad, the case was turned over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Loudoun County officials said the device was capable of causing serious damage, Anderson said.

The vending machine belonged to The Journal, a daily newspaper in Martinsburg.

Members of the Martinsburg Fire Department and West Virginia State Police K-9 Unit assisted at the scene.

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