Bomb-making suspect pleads not guilty; police to burn mobile home

Caitlin Owens (Los Angeles Times) | June 26, 2014

 Sungate Country Mobile Home ParkA man pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of making a bomb and having explosive materials in a Cathedral City mobile home, which police plan to burn, according to authorities.

Cathedral City police went to the home about 1:45 a.m. Tuesday after receiving a call from a woman who reported her brother was “acting delusional” at her father’s residence, police said.

When officers arrived at Sungate Country Mobile Home Park, Sean Stewart Clarke met them at the door, they said. Officers saw powder on the floor, dismantled shotgun shells and buckshot.

Police said they found a homemade pipe bomb in Clarke’s posession, which he told them he made with potassium nitrate and aluminum powder. He said he was carrying it for protection, according to police.

A police report said Clarke’s appearance led them to believe he was under the influence of a controlled substance. He was arrested on suspicion of possessing explosive materials.

Police called the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department bomb unit, which evacuated nearby residents. Technicians used a robot to remove a bomb from the porch and the device was later destroyed.

The bomb squad determined removing the bomb-making materials would be too risky and decided to burn the home.

Trying to move the mobile home would be unsafe, as “you’d basically be pulling a bomb behind you through town,” said Cathedral County police department spokesman Chuck Robinson.

Flooding the mobile home with water to dissipate the powder would create environmentally hazardous waste and hydrogen gas, which is explosive, authorities added.

The risk in trying to “move it or mitigate it,” made burning the mobile home at its current location the safest option, Robinson said.

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