Four middle school students from Poway have been arrested in the manufacture of three acid bombs, two of which exploded this week in Poway, sheriff’s deputies said Friday.
Arrested were four 14-year-old eighth-grade boys enrolled at Meadowbrook Middle School, said Detective Rick Empson of the sheriff’s bomb squad.
Sheriff’s investigators declined to elaborate on how the boys were tied to the bombs, but said they were friends and they apparently exploded the devices on their way to school.
“I don’t think they intended to hurt anybody,” said Don Hurst, Meadowbrook Middle School principal. “I think they just wanted to make a noise with them.”
Contained in large plastic soda bottles, the bombs explode when acid is combined with solid ingredients, triggering a chemical reaction that causes the plastic bottles to expand and then to explode, authorities said. The explosion causes plastic to fly and acid to spread out in a 10- to 15-foot radius.
Two of the boys were arrested Wednesday at the sheriff’s substation in Poway, and the remaining two youths were arrested Thursday at school, Empson said. The boys were later released into the custody of their parents. The case will be submitted to the district attorney’s office for review.
The arrests followed the explosion of one bomb Tuesday on Halper Road and the discovery of a pair of bombs Wednesday, one of which exploded in the south parking lot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Pomerado Road, Empson said.
Authorities are also trying to determine whether the youths are tied to a rash of acid bombs discovered this week in Lakeside and Oceanside, though those incidents are not believed to be connected to the Poway explosions, authorities said.
Hurst said only one of the boys actually made the bombs and described the others as onlookers. He declined to comment on whether the youths will face disciplinary measures at school or whether any of the students had been disciplined in the past.
Empson said an older youth, possibly a high school student, taught the boys how to make the bombs. He declined to give any specific information about the type of chemicals that were used to explode the bombs.
The Sheriff’s Department issued a warning to the public Wednesday to keep an eye out for the bombs and to stay away from them after eight bombs were discovered in Lakeside over the weekend, six of which exploded.
The toll grew to a dozen by Wednesday, after three bombs were found in Poway and the remnants of an exploded 12th bomb were delivered to the Oceanside Fire Department.
Empson said Friday that the public should continue to be on the alert for any suspicious containers and should call police if they think they have spotted a bomb.