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Pipe Bomb Rips Car, Jolts Simi Neighborhood

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A pipe bomb exploded beneath a sports car in Simi Valley, peppering nearby homes with chunks of shrapnel that narrowly missed one young couple’s heads, authorities said Friday.

No one was injured in the blast late Thursday, but the explosion severely damaged the car and jolted residents awake in a quiet cul-de-sac surrounded by middle-class homes at the end of Calle La Sombra, in Simi Valley’s east end.

Detectives said they do not know who detonated the bomb or why, but they were waiting to interview the apparent intended victim, Richard Scott Taylor, 28, whose 1979 Mazda RX-7 was seriously damaged by the blast.

Taylor, who police said is unemployed, could not be reached for comment.

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Simi Valley Police Lt. Mark Layhew said someone had threatened several months ago to hurt Taylor, but there is no evidence yet tying those threats to the bomb.

Layhew said the blast was the first incident of an explosive device in the city since two high-school pranksters blew up a sign, a public telephone and a series of mailboxes with small pipe bombs in March of last year.

But the device set off Thursday night was larger and more powerful, he said.

The bomb was 7 inches long, 1 1/2 inches in diameter and was lit from a grassy area nearby with a 7 1/2-foot-long fuse. “It was fairly substantial,” Layhew said of the device.

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It was placed almost directly under the center of the car and when it went off it flung shrapnel and car parts up and into the car’s interior, according to an initial report by Senior Officer Darin Muehler.

One of the larger fragments passed completely through the car and out of the windshield on the passenger side. Shrapnel also punctured the car’s oil pan, flooding the street with oil.

Other shrapnel struck nearby homes, including one piece that plunged through a closed bedroom window 120 feet from the blast site, police said.

Katrina Kuratli said she and her husband, Dan, had just lain down in their bedroom when the bomb went off around 10:45 p.m.

“I heard a bang, and I heard a ping, and I looked up to see where that shrapnel--a fragment of the pipe bomb--went through our window and through the wall,” she said. “And it went into our neighbors’ living room--this is a common wall.”

Kuratli pointed to a shattered window, her finger drawing a path just 2 1/2 feet above the pillows to a hole in the wall the size of her fist.

“At first, I thought there was like a random shooting,” she said. “I thought somebody had shot a shotgun, especially when I saw the hole in the wall.”

Kuratli said she called 911 “in tears, telling them to get out here.”

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Neighbors said the bomb startled them, too.

“I jumped a good foot--2 1/2 feet,” said Neil Jackson, who lives next door to the apartment where Taylor was staying temporarily with friends.

“It sure scared the hell out of us,” said Erik Lorenz, of Newport Beach, who was visiting Jackson. “Have you ever seen that movie ‘The Terminator,’ where he’s throwing pipe bombs? It sounded just like that. I’ve heard a stick of dynamite go off before, and it was as loud as a stick of dynamite.”


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