Crude bomb injures East Baltimore man

November 18, 1994|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Sun Staff Writer

A 73-year-old East Baltimore man was critically injured early today when a crude bomb went off in his hands as he attempted to remove it from the roof of his son's car in front of his home in the 2100 block of E. Lombard St.

Whoever built the bomb may have meant to kill the man's son, police said.

Police said Frank Busnuk, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where his condition was listed as stable. A fire department official said the man suffered severe injuries to both hands and may lose them.

From Shock Trauma, the victim was expected to be transferred to the Raymond Curtis Hand Center at Union Memorial Hospital, where attempts would be made to reattach his fingers and save the hands. Mr. Busnuk also sustained serious facial and upper torso injuries.

Police said they know of no motive for the incident but residents said the area had recently been plagued with juveniles vandalizing cars and other property.

One man's car window was destroyed a few weeks ago.

There was speculation, according to police, that the blast was meant for Mr. Busnuk's son, Paul, who had complained about the vandalism and reported several incidents to police.

Police were examining the reports for the names of persons suspected of damaging property who may have had a motive to make an attempt on the son's life.

They also were interviewing Mr. Busnuk's son to determine if he knew of anyone who might have wanted to wanted to kill him for some other reason.

The explosion left a dent several inches deep in the top of the son's Thunderbird. It also blew out the car's front window and those of at least two houses.

Pieces of the Thunderbird were found hundreds of feet away.

A woman who lives across the street from the victim said the explosion sounded like a cannon going off.

L Another said it sounded like lightning had struck her house.

Capt. Stephan Fugate, of the fire department's investigation bureau, said the explosion was heard by firefighters at a station five blocks away at Eastern and Collington avenues.

Police on Broadway, six blocks west of the scene, reported hearing the explosion.

"Whoever made that bomb," Captain Fugate said, "knew what they were doing."

According to police and fire officials at the scene, Mr. Busnuk was inside his house around 4:30 a.m. and was looking out the window when he saw a man standing on the passenger side of his son's car. Seconds later, the man walked away, leaving an object on the roof, police said.

Curious, Mr. Busnuk came out of his house, stepped off his stoop and walked toward the car, parked a few feet away.

He then picked up the object with both hands and it went off, blasting a hole in the car's roof and blowing off his fingers, some of which were found several feet away.

A neighbor said she looked outside after hearing the explosion and saw Mr. Busnuk sitting on his stoop and yelling in pain. The woman called police.

Neighbors rushed outside and covered the man's hands with towels.

Within minutes, the 2100 block of E. Lombard St. was jammed with police and fire vehicles. Homicide detectives and the bomb squad also responded, and the entire block was cordoned off as residents, many in their nightclothes, stood on the pavement or leaned out their windows as police began picking up what appeared to be pieces of the bomb.

One investigator said the top of a mayonnaise jar with a neat hole drilled in it was found near the intersection with South Chester Street, several houses from the blast scene. Also found were parts of a coffee can, electrical wires, parts of a battery and other debris believed associated with the bomb.

At the scene, a bomb expert described the type of device after learning what kind of materials were found.

He said it appeared the mayonnaise jar was filled with one type of explosive material and that it was placed inside the coffee can, which also may have been filled with an explosive material.

He said the coffee can was probably placed on top of a pressure plate that was set down very carefully on the car's roof and that when the Mr. Busnuk lifted the coffee can, some kind of contact was set into motion, perhaps caused by the battery.

The electrical connection, he said, would have set off the mixture of chemicals and the resulting explosion would have been severe.

Captain Fugate said the bomb appeared to have been right out of a book titled "The Anarchist's Handbook," which provides detailed instructions for anyone who wants to build a bomb.

"There are all kinds of bombs," he said, "and it doesn't have to be sophisticated or professionally built to be lethal."

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