A group of children were playing with a military shell given to them by a neighbor before the device exploded, killing a young boy and girl, police and witnesses said Wednesday.
Bakersfield police said there have been no arrests or charges. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the shell to detonate Tuesday, damaging homes and forcing neighbors to wrap bloodied and dazed children in blankets.
“As you can imagine, this was a traumatic experience for the kids and their parents. So it’s going to take awhile to sort things out,” said Det. Greg Terry.
Andrew Etcheverry, 8, died at the scene in the city’s Oleander neighborhood. Jeni Marie Klawitter, 7, died at the Kern Medical Center, the county coroner said.
Five other children as old as 12 suffered minor to moderate injuries.
Frank Sendejo, who lives near the complex where the explosion occurred, confirmed Wednesday that he had given a group of children a 40-millimeter shell. Bakersfield police said they have talked to Sendejo.
Sendejo told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper that he thought the shell was spent and often used it as a “conversation piece.”
He said the firing pin and bottom shell casing had been removed, along with the gunpowder inside.
“I thought it was harmless,” he told the newspaper.
Tyvia Holloway, 10, remained in the Kern Medical Center’s trauma unit Wednesday.
Her mother, Sherlicia Owens, said Tyvia had a hole in her back and shrapnel in her side, cheek and arms. Doctors are trying to determine if the girl will need plastic surgery.
Monique Salmon, 20, spent Wednesday afternoon cleaning up dust and debris in her living room and kitchen left by the explosion. She said the blast left quarter-sized holes in her walls.
Bakersfield police said their bomb squad has contacted federal and military agencies for assistance.