Friday, February 27, 2009

Police seize pipe bomb in valley home

Explosive device was found during a drug sweep Wednesday night


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

An unnamed officer with the Twin Falls Police Departmentís bomb squad guides a robot that was used to detonate a pipe bomb discovered Wednesday during a drug sweep at a mid-valley residence on Alturas Drive. John Koth, who lives near the site of the incident, took the photo.

Officers from the Blaine County Sheriff's Office discovered more than they expected Wednesday while searching the Alturas Drive residence of 27-year-old Benjamin Wagstaff.

The officers, who were taking part in a drug sweep of three homes in the valley, found a homemade explosive device while combing through Wagstaff's residence. Taking part in the raid were officers from the sheriff's office, several other local law enforcement agencies, Idaho State Police and an agent from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"We found a pipe bomb," Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said Thursday morning.

After the bomb's discovery, Femling said, a call went out to the bomb squad from the Twin Falls Police Department to dispose of the bomb.

Matt Hicks, spokesman for the Twin Falls Police, said the bomb squad responded to the call for assistance.

John Koth, who lives on Alturas Drive just north of Ohio Gulch, witnessed the incident from his home. Koth said he spoke with a Blaine County sheriff's deputy who said there was no imminent danger to residents.

Koth said the Twin Falls officers used a robot to dispose of the bomb, which he said looked rather small.

"They did explode a small device. Flash, boom, nothing huge," Koth said.

According to a news release from the sheriff's office, evidence was retained from the pipe bomb and prosecutors will determine whether Wagstaff will be charged with federal violations for possessing an explosive device. The news release states that officers also found methamphetamine at his residence.

Wagstaff was arrested and charged with two counts of delivery of methamphetamine and one count of possession of methamphetamine. Police also arrested a second person at the same residence on misdemeanor drug charges, the news release states.

Arrests related to the drug sweep were made at two other homes, the first in Hailey and the other on Alturas Drive, the sheriff's office reported.

Jason Kauffman: jkauffman@mtexpress.com




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