Routine Call To Fireworks; Bombs Found
A number of homemade but deadly bombs were discovered after the Rochelle, Ill., Fire Department responded on a seemingly routine call to a youth injured while playing with fireworks.
Due to the nature of the call, police responded along with the EMTs to a fashionable condominium at 8:08 p.m. last April 25. They found a 17-year-old male with three severed Fingertips and minor lacerations to his face, chest and abdomen. He had been assembling a small explosive device on the living room table. It consisted of two empty .38caliber cartridges and black powder connected with electrical wiring to a detonation device and eight “A” batteries. A short circuit caused the device to explode.
Permission to search
The youth was transported to the hospital in the fire department ambulance. A police detective spoke to the youth and his mother at the hospital. He agreed it was dangerous to be making fireworks. The detective received written permission from him and his mother to search for and remove any other dangerous material from the condominium and properly dispose of it.
Initially, considering the youth’s statements and the small amount of material visible in the living room, the detective believed him to be making only homemade fireworks, such as the one that detonated. The following morning, the police department requested the fire department to assist them in the removal of the material. We were in for a big surprise.
Shortly after removal operations had begun, we noted a cigar box on a shelf in the living room marked “DANGER -EXPLOSIVE DEVICES.” This box contained a landmine, a hand grenade, and a partially completed time bomb. These devices were homemade and later were found to be well constructed and deadly. At this time we realized that we had found more than we bargained for.
The remainder of the condominium was evacuated, guards were posted and additional standby equipment was brought in. The Kane County, Ill., Sheriffs Department bomb squad and the U.S. Army 51st Explosive Ordnance Detachment from Ft. Sheridan were called in for their expertise in the removal of explosives. After their arrival, the systematic search and removal operations began.
The bomb squad found several pounds of flammable and explosive chemicals, homemade rockets and fireworks, commercial fireworks, gun ammunition, and components for explosive devices. This material was inventoried and placed in the Kane County bomb squad’s explosives confinement trailer. Also confiscated were several handguns and rifles as well as contraband military weapons.
The explosives trailer was taken to a rock quarry outside of town where the material was detonated. The resulting concussion was felt more than 5 miles away.
A search warrant was obtained from the judge by the Ogle County Sheriffs Department to search a farmhouse that was also owned by the family. Although the youth had stated that there was nothing there, we definitely wanted to make sure. However, no other material was found at the farm.
The operations were concluded shortly before midnight. The bomb experts stated that the material was of high quality and with the quantity involved, an explosion in the condominium unit could have easily leveled several units in the reinforced concrete structure. The young man, a high school senior and an honor student, was charged with unlawful use of weapons, a felony. He was bound over for trial.