Crownsville man finds explosive device Object was among items he bought in an auction of storage facility contents

January 22, 1998|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

A Crownsville man sorting abandoned property he bought at an Annapolis storage facility found what appeared to be a bomb yesterday.

The man called Anne Arundel County police about 2 p.m., and for the next six hours Storage USA, in the 2000 block of Trout Road near the 2000 block of Generals Highway was teeming with activity.

Employees of nearby offices were evacuated, county public works crews trucked in sandbags, and the storage area near Annapolis Mall soon swarmed with bomb squads and fire investigators.

Battalion Chief John Scholz of the county Fire Department said a robot removed the device from a box, divided it into three parts and fired shotgun blasts at each section, causing explosions he described as "minor to significant."

No injuries were reported, and damage was confined to the "improvised explosive device," Scholz said.

He said the remains were taken to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms lab in Rockville for examination.

The boxes and other contents of the garage-sized storage space had belonged to a man who failed to pay his monthly fee, which prompted Storage USA to auction off the contents.

Storage USA senior district manager Chet Podd said the law permits the company to sell property left by people who are 65 days late in paying their bills, but that the company usually gives them three months before auctioning off the goods.

Police did not identify the delinquent renter. The winning bidder was identified as Charles Resch of Crownsville.

"He came in here to claim his prize, and as he was going through it, [he] came upon a box that appeared to contain some sort of explosive device," said county police spokesman Jeff Kelly.

Members of the state fire marshal's office in Aberdeen brought the bomb-detection robot, which was used to videotape the contents of the box without risking anyone's life.

Scholz said the suspected bomb appeared to be homemade. "It's not commercial, it's not military, so we're calling it an improvised explosive device," Scholz said.

Kelly said the county police and fire departments have gotten plenty of practice in responding to bomb scares this year.

Since September, the agencies have responded to 82 bomb threats at area schools.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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