SPPD, VCSD bomb squad responds to suspected explosive device in SUV

January 29, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times

A 34-year-old Fillmore man was arrested Saturday afternoon following a routine traffic stop on suspicion of possession of an explosive device, an incident that brought out the county bomb squad and led to the evacuation of portions of the Glen Tavern Inn and the neighborhood. 

According to Santa Paula Police Sgt. Scott Varner, the incident started at about 2:26 p.m. when SPPD Officers conducted a traffic stop in the 900 block of East Santa Barbara Street.

When officers found the passenger in the SUV was on probation Varner said based on his probation terms a search of the vehicle by officers was conducted.

According to Lt. Ishmael Cordero, the unknown device was found in a bag of tools the Fillmore driver told police he recently had bought from a friend. Although he knew the device was in the bag he was not aware it was an explosive device.

Varner said, “Generally what happens when we find such a device is we back off, set up a perimeter and call in the Ventura County Sheriff’s bomb squad,” which responded, as did Santa Paula Fire and AMR ambulance.

Santa Paula Police Cadets and Citizens Patrol as well as more SPPD Officers also arrived on scene and the 900 block of East Santa Barbara Street and a portion of the Glen Tavern Inn were evacuated as a precautionary measure. 

Yellow police caution tape was strung in the Railroad Plaza just north of the Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum.

Finally with shouts of “Fire in the hole!” the robot triggered the device inside the SUV with a loud bang.

Varner said once the device “Was rendered safe we were able to collect the evidence,” that has been forwarded to a laboratory for analysis.

“It did appear to be an explosive device,” said Varner. “The officers said there appeared to be a fuse coming out of it...” 

He said the driver Albert Morales of Fillmore was arrested for suspicion of being in possession of an explosive device. His passenger was questioned and released.

Those evacuated were displaced for about 90 minutes before they were allowed back to their residences and the Glen Tavern Inn.

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