A Laurel man was being held on an explosives charge yesterday after the discovery of a pipe bomb prompted the evacuation of a section of a Columbia apartment complex.
Explosives experts safely detonated the bomb about 10: 30 a.m. yesterday -- more than six hours after it was discovered in the suspect's car, authorities said. About 50 residents of the Chase Glen Apartments on Hickory Ridge Road were roused early yesterday and evacuated.
The state fire marshal's office charged Charles Samuel Smith, 30, with possession of a pipe bomb. Smith was being held at the Howard County Detention Center in lieu of $6,000 bail.
According to charging documents, Smith arrived at his brother's Chase Glen apartment Friday, intending to stay overnight. After he fell asleep, his brother, Jason Smith, searched the car, intending to destroy any drugs Charles Smith had left, authorities said.
Jason Smith lifted the rear seat of the car and found a suspected crack pipe and the bomb, according to the documents.
Howard County police were notified and evacuated five buildings in the complex. The state fire marshal's office used a robot to remove the 10-inch pipe bomb from the car. The bomb then was detonated in a pit of sandbags.
After the explosion, investigators combed the area for fragments that might provide evidence. Allen L. Ward, deputy chief of the fire marshal's office, said Delaware State Police joined the case after it was learned Smith works as an electrician in that state. He said Smith's address in Laurel, which is his grandmother's home, also was to be searched.
About 15 of the evacuated Chase Glen residents accepted an offer to be sheltered at nearby Wilde Lake High School. More, including Deborah Gunn, chose to stay with friends or relatives.
Gunndecided to stay at her daughter's home.
"All I know is it's alarming to have someone knock on your door at five in the morning and say, 'There's a bomb,' " she said. "My heart was thumping."
Pub Date: 9/22/96