An ATF lab in Walnut Creek could begin processing evidence as early as this week in a Vacaville bombing case. It was just after 10 am Sunday, when a man in his 80’s went outside to grab the Sunday newspaper; only the newspaper exploded when he picked it up.
A hole in the ground on Cashel Circle now represents the spot where the bomb went off; it about 3 feet long and 2 feet wide. Vacaville Police will not confirm the bomb was disguised as a newspaper. ”It might be a pipe bomb. It might be some other explosive device. As I said earlier, there was some sort of rumor that it was a liquid acid base bomb; it’s not that” says Mike Mazzaferro, spokesman for the City of Vacaville.
But it sure was loud like a bomb. Tracy Marin lives across the street and says her 13 year old daughter heard the explosion and saw its aftermath, “She saw him, the blood on his arm and his leg and his hand.” Marin’s daughter refused come back to the neighborhood Sunday night; and spent the night somewhere else.
Many of the residents in this well kept North Browns Valley neighborhood heard the blast, and word spread quickly. ”And then a neighbor boy came around and knocked on the door and said don’t pick up any newspapers. The guy up the street at 944 was just blown up picking up his newspaper,” David Wheeler was brushing his teeth when the explosion shook the house.
Vacaville Police quickly shutdown several surrounding blocks and issued evacuation notices to as many as 50 homes. It was feared there might be other newspaper bombs sitting in other driveways. Within hours bomb experts from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms joined the investigation in Vacaville. Bradly Holbein, the father of four, was forced to leave his home for almost 4 hours. ”What if we would’ve sent one of our kids out this morning to get the paper, and it would’ve been one of our papers. That’s how you gotta look at it; I’ve got 4 kids.”
The most critical evidence from this case will likely come from that hole in the ground. No signs, this is an act of domestic terrorism. But what investigators find in that hole, in a small swatch of grass between two driveways, will tell them a lot about the bomb and maybe the suspect. “It helps them identify what kind of device it was, how it was made and potentially who built the device,” Mazzaferro says.
The last of the evacuees returned home just before the sun went down Sunday night. The victim, believed to be in his 80’s, suffered serious injuries. But they are no considered life threatening.