Bomb Squad Fears Booby Traps at Explosion Site

Deputies are being extremely cautious and assuming the worst

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Nov 24, 2010  |  Updated 9:02 PM PDT
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The North County home where law enforcement officers discovered a stockpile of highly-explosive material was is like that of a hoarder, according to a key member of law enforcement..

The North County home where law enforcement officers discovered a stockpile of highly-explosive material was is like that of a hoarder, according to a key member of law enforcement..

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Asst Sheriff Describes Inside of "Bomb Factory" Home

San Diego County Assistant Sheriff Ed Prendergast paints a picture of the inside of the North County home considered a "bomb factory" by prosecutors.
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The North County home where law enforcement officers discovered a stockpile of highly-explosive material was is like that of a hoarder, according to a key member of law enforcement..

In a brief update Wednesday, San Diego County Assistant Sheriff Ed Prendergast described what bomb techs discovered inside the home on Via Scott when they made a limited entry Sunday.

“It’s not like most houses where you can walk in and out,” Prendergast said. "The walkways are very small."

"You have every imaginable space, countertops and tabletops full of junk," he said.

George Jakubec, 54, faces 28 criminal counts, most related to possession of explosives connected to what’s believed to be the largest stockpile of a highly explosive material -- hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMTD, -- ever discovered in the U.S. On Monday, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, which included two robbery counts.

Since the discovery of the explosives on Nov. 18, Jakubec has talked with investigators. But Prendergast said investigators are questioning everything Jakubec tells them.

“We would never take him at his word. It would be too dangerous to take him at his word,” Prendergast said. “We’re listening to what he says, we’re taking that input and we’re verifying everything."

Dangerous because HMTD is extremely sensitive to heat, friction and shock. A person can be seriously injured by less than a gram of the material - as witnessed with the injuries sustained by landscaper Mario Garcia - and so far, deputies have secured and removed eight to nine pounds of it from the property.

“We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what’s in there. We don’t know if there’s booby traps in there,” he said.

With bomb techs suited up in protective gear, decreased mobility makes it risky to make entry into the home.

“It’s an extremely hazardous environment so we’re going to go very slow, very methodically," Prendergast said.

“Our goal is to do it the right way. We’ll go as fast as we can but as slow as we must,” he said.

The deputies are working with fire, hazmat and federal agents and have reached out to local, state and federal authorities asking for input, suggestions and advice. What they found, according to Prendergast, is that they may be establishing best practices in this type of situation.

As of Wednesday, the plan is to send in bomb techs to secure some evidence inside the home and then get back out.

“We have to balance the securing of evidence with the safety of our bomb techs,” said Prendergast. “The safety of our bomb techs comes first.” 

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