Homemade bomb explodes in Frontier Hall

Jesse Weisbeck

Bombs made from hairpins and chewing gum might have saved the day for television’s MacGyver, but a harmless bomb made from similar household materials startled Frontier Hall residents Monday.
At about midnight, a loud explosion rocked the doors of the hall when a rigged soda bottle blew up in a stairwell, spraying liquid materials on walls and causing students to jump from their beds.
“It sounded like a loud door slam,” said Coordinator and Student Behavior official Ralph Rickgarn.
Rickgarn said the bomb consisted of everyday household substances that reacted to cause the explosion. These types of exploding devices are commonly known as “MacGyver” bombs, Rickgarn said.
No one was injured in the incident, said University Police Detective Charles Miner. He added that chemicals in the explosion were not toxic and did little harm to the building.
After the incident, University Police officer Patricia Gjerde arrested a man for minor consumption who later became a suspect in the explosion.
“At this point it looks like a prank,” Rickgarn said.
Miner agreed, saying there didn’t seem to be any specific target and that it probably was a joke.
While some of the bomb’s elements are still unknown, others have been identified. University Police Sgt. Joe May said the bomb consisted partially of some common metals.
“Some of this stuff is pretty easily known,” Miner said, adding that the bomb’s construction wasn’t too complex. “I don’t think Ted Kaczynski sent it,” he said.
Even so, Miner said he plans to investigate the incident further.
“We may send the remains off to be tested,” he said.

In other police news:

ù University Police arrested a police informant Wednesday as he attempted to steal from vehicles at a parking lot on Bloomington Avenue South.
Officers Eric Swanson and Matthew Quast arrested the man, who works for the Minneapolis police’s 3rd Precinct crack team. Police asked that the suspect’s name not be made public for safety purposes.
According to police reports, Swanson and Quast noticed the man while on plainclothes patrol at a parking lot near the West Bank. After seeing him look inside the windows of three vehicles, they apprehended him.
During a pat-down search of the suspect, Swanson found two screwdrivers and a crack pipe. Later, Swanson stated in the report that the suspect admitted he had broken into vehicles in the past, demonstrating for the officers how he broke car windows with his screwdriver.
While the officers were citing the suspect for lurking with intent to commit a crime, the man suddenly told Swanson he had something to confess.
Swanson took him to an unmarked squad car, where the man claimed to be an informant for the 3rd Precinct’s crack team. The man said he had previously turned in a man named “Ray-Ray” for the 3rd Precinct.
Yet Swanson was puzzled.
“He didn’t have the name of the contact. I thought that was odd,” Swanson said.
But the man’s story was later confirmed when Swanson received a call from an official at the 3rd Precinct.
However, the man had allegedly abused the informant relationship by telling police he would help them out if they didn’t press charges when they caught him stealing from cars.
Swanson said the 3rd Precinct official told University Police to “Throw the book at him.”
According to the police report, the suspect had a previous record of stealing radios and other valuables from cars.
Officials from the 3rd Precinct declined comment.

ù A University student possessing a street sign made the job easy for police on Friday night: He took the sign in clear sight of a traffic officer.
Robert Schlesinger, 19, said he discovered what he thought was an abandoned 1-foot-by-2-feet sign propped against an orange pylon near the Nolte garage. The sign displayed “sorry lot full” on one side and “Parking $5.00/hour” on the other.
Meanwhile, University Police Sgt. Joe May was controlling traffic near Northrop Mall when Schlesinger and five other friends took the sign. May wore a bright, reflective jacket and was visible from where Schlesinger and his friends stood.
“Yeah, we saw him,” Schlesinger said. “But we saw (the sign) and didn’t put two and two together and just took it.”
May found the whole incident strange.
“Apparently in fear that I wouldn’t catch on, they started arguing over who got to keep the sign,” May said.
After Schlesinger took the $70 sign, he said the argument was about who would carry the object. Since he was the only one without a bag, Schlesinger won the task. Moments later, walking down the sidewalk, he and his friends were deluged by police sirens and dizzied from spinning red and blue lights.
University Police Officer David Wilske stopped the group of six and cited Schlesinger for possession of stolen property.
“He was pretty understanding,” Schlesinger said. “It was one of those real strange things you don’t realize when you do it.”

ù After spending fifty cents, breaking some glass, and bloodying his hand Tuesday afternoon, an irate but devout corn chip coveter retrieved his prized snack.
A snack dispenser, located in Philips-Wangensteen Building, apparently malfunctioned and left the unidentified man’s chips wedged in between the metal dispenser coils.
According to a police report, the man became upset when the machine didn’t give him the chips, which he’d already paid for. He began to hit the machine in an attempt to jar the snack loose, but the chips were stuck fast.
Linda Carreno, a facilities management custodian, told the man to hit the side of the vending machine instead of the glass. But he seemed to pay no heed, the police report stated.
Fed up, the suspect punched the glass covering on the vending machine and broke it.
After retrieving only the corn chips, he walked off toward the main hospital unit.
Carreno couldn’t be reached for comment.