MID-CITY — Residents of an apartment building on the 1100 block of 12th Street found themselves waiting on the sidewalk for over two hours Wednesday night while Santa Monica police, firefighters and the Los Angeles County bomb squad seized and detonated two pipe bombs found in the room of a 16-year-old boy.
Alex Gospodinovi, who lives with his family in one of the downstairs apartments, said he heard “really loud” popping sounds coming from the upstairs before officials told residents to get out.
“They told us to evacuate the building and said it would be a couple of hours,” Gospodinovi said. “When we tried to approach the building, I heard the popping.”
Santa Monica police found the bombs, illegal M-80 firecrackers, explosive materials and prescription drugs in the room of the 16-year-old after officers conducted a routine probation check, officials say.
Officers also found printed instructions on how to make explosives, and white powder, believed to be ammonium nitrate, said Santa Monica Police Department spokesman Sgt. Richard Lewis.
The search was part of a probation check conducted by Los Angeles County Probation Officer Tommie Baines, who called SMPD for assistance at 7:04 p.m. Wednesday.
The teen, who will turn 17 today, was on probation with Los Angeles County for previous narcotics possession charges. He is a student in Santa Monica. He was not identified by police.
One bomb had been made out of a three-inch piece of pipe, and the other was an empty carbon dioxide canister.
The boy allegedly told officers that all of the materials were bought either at a hardware store or in Chinatown, Lewis said.
It’s unclear what kind of damage either bomb could have inflicted, although the M-80 fireworks from which they were made could take off a hand, Lewis said.
“Based on that, they evacuated the apartment unit and the units around much of the apartment complex, and closed a couple of streets,” Lewis said. “They then called in the Los Angeles County Bomb Squad and fire department.”
The bomb squad arrived at approximately 9:50 p.m. The materials were confirmed to be explosive, and then detonated by the bomb squad in a special container inside the team’s vehicle, Lewis said.
A continued search of the apartment revealed a small amount of Xanax and a potato gun.
Residents of the surrounding apartments were allowed back into their homes at approximately 11:45 p.m., Lewis said.
By that point, Gospodinovi, his wife and son had left to spend the night at the home of a family member.
The investigation is still ongoing, although police expect to file charges today.
The teen was booked on suspicion of felony counts of manufacturing an explosive device and possession of an explosive device and misdemeanor counts of probation violation, possession of the potato launcher, being under the influence of a narcotic, possession of drug paraphernalia and drug possession, Lewis said.