Riverside Police Department Press Release


For Immediate Release

Date Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Contact Steven Frasher, Press Information Officer
Phone (951) 826-5147
A.T.F. John E. D’Angelo, Resident Agent in Charge
Phone (213) 534-2450

Stolen Big Bear explosives recovered at Riverside fire station

Riverside, Ca- The Riverside Police Department Technical Services Unit (TSU) determined that two black plastic bins dropped off sometime Wednesday morning at the Riverside Northside Fire Station No. 6 contained dynamite and other explosive materials, but that the materials were deemed safe to package and remove from the scene. The TSU, or bomb squad, determined the site safe at 6:50 p.m.

Riverside Public Safety Dispatch received a cellphone call from a passer-by at 11:06 a.m., reporting a suspicious package in the driveway of the fire station, located at 2293 Main Street. The Riverside Fire Department engine crew was away on a training exercise at the time.

External markings on the bins prompted incident commanders to notify the TSU and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) to further the investigation. Shortly after noon a 1,000-foot perimeter was established around the fire station, which eventually included the closure of the Main Street exit ramp from Highway 60, the evacuation of 18 homes on Wilshire Street immediately adjacent to the station, and several local businesses. The perimeter remained until about 8 p.m.

The TSU bomb robot was utilized to first make visual inspection of the containers to determine their contents and assess the explosive potential of the materials. The bins were eventually moved, opened and spilled to fully render the scene safe. Inspection by human technicians was made at 6:40 p.m.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives determined the material accounted for the 30-pound bag of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (ANFO), and about half of the 500 pounds of dynamite that was stolen from the Gold Mountain Mine Co. of Big Bear City, CA, sometime between May 1 and May 3, 2006.

“Whoever turned this material in did the right thing,” said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Los Angeles Field Division. “We need whoever dropped this off, and whoever controls the remaining dynamite, to do the right thing and contact us so we can recover all the missing material.” Torres emphasized anyone wishing to return the explosive should call ATF to arrange for safe transfer rather than dropping it off. Anyone with information on this crime or regarding the dynamite still at large is urged to call the ATF toll-free at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).

A $25,000 reward is being offered by ATF for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the Big Bear theft.

Torres offered praise to the City of Riverside and the Riverside Police Department for the collaborative effort in containing the scene and safely recovering the stolen explosives. The ATF investigation continues.

The operation demonstrated the care and expertise of Technical Services Unit, and the excellent cooperation between several agencies, in containing the scene and assuring the safety of the public, said RPD Lieutenant Rick Tedesco, the on-scene incident commander.

“Everything went very smoothly, with minimal inconvenience to the public; area residents were very understanding “Tedesco said.

Approximately 900 students Fremont Elementary School, which fell inside the 1,000-foot perimeter area, were safely sheltered at the school until parents picked up each child, said Riverside Unified School District spokeswoman Dianne Pavia. All area schools will be open and operating normally on Thursday, she said.

Local residents were advised to stay inside their homes; no one turned up at the evacuation centers prepared at the Riverside Convention Center and at Reid Park.