DOWNTOWN L.A. — The 17-year-old Santa Monica resident who allegedly built two bombs in his Mid-City apartment plead not guilty to eight charges in a Los Angeles County juvenile court Monday.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has charged the young man, who will not be identified due to his age, with felony counts of using a destructive device, possession of a destructive device, possession of ingredients to make a destructive device, minor in possession of a firearm and minor in possession of a deadly weapon.
Additionally, he was charged with three misdemeanor counts, including being under the influence of a controlled substance, prescription drug possession and unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle.
He is in custody at a juvenile facility, said Jane Robison, a press secretary with the District Attorney’s Office.
Santa Monica police allegedly found two pipe bombs, illegal M-80 firecrackers, explosive materials and prescription drugs in the teen’s room during the course of a routine probation check, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department.
Officers also found instructions on how to make the pipe bombs, a white powder officers believed to be ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in explosives, and a potato launcher.
SMPD officers got the call to assist Probation Officer Tommie Baines with the search at 7:04 p.m. on May 18.
The teen was on probation for narcotics possession charges. He is a student attending a school in Santa Monica. Police would not release the name of the school.
When officers found the pair of bombs in the boy’s room in his apartment on the 1100 block of 12th Street they called in the Los Angeles County Bomb Squad for back-up at approximately 8 p.m., and evacuated the other residents of the complex at 9:45 p.m.
Det. Derek Yoshino, who is a member of the bomb squad, wrote in an e-mail that the team arrived, gathered the explosives and “rendered them safe.”
He could not describe the process that the bomb squads use to make the explosives harmless, saying that the information would only help criminals make better bombs.
The size of the first pipe bomb was the biggest concern, Yoshino wrote in an e-mail, and it could have caused injury or death to anyone standing near it.
The second bomb, which Yoshino described as an “improvised exploding device,” could easily have taken off a hand or fingers.
Anyone can find the information the teen used to make the bombs on the Internet, Yoshino wrote.
“The scary part is they really don’t know how dangerous some of the stuff is, and it can and often blows up while they’re working with the stuff,” he wrote.
Residents were allowed back into their apartments at approximately 11:45 p.m., two hours after police and fire officials asked them to leave the building.
The boy will have a pre-trial hearing on June 9.
Possible punishments, if convicted, include probation, home detention, a reform camp or detainment until he’s 21 years old, Robison said.