Homemade bombs investigated in Johnson County

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CENTER GROVE, Ind. (March 8, 2015)– The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after several homemade bombs were found in front yards of a Center Grove neighborhood Sunday afternoon. Steven Hershberger says his wife had just returned home from church around noon Sunday when she saw a plastic water bottle in the front yard of their home in the 4700 block of Pearcrest Way.

Instead of water, the bottle contained aluminum foil and some kind of liquid.

“We called the county sheriff out here and they looked at it and they said to stay away from it and keep inside,” Hershberger said.

Sheriffs deputies determined the bottle was a “works bomb,” which uses the chemical reaction of the foil and acids to build up pressure until the container explodes.

“The people that make them don’t know when they’re going to go off,” said Johnson County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Matt Rhinehart.  “We don’t know, and the bomb squad doesn’t know when they’re going to go off.  So that, combined with the chemicals that are released from them, that’s what becomes the most dangerous.”

The department’s Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) robot was deployed to puncture the bottle, which caused it to detonate.

“The robot had these long arms on it and stuff and it started poking around on the bottle and in a short time, we heard this loud boom,” Hershberger recalled.

But as the bomb squad was wrapping up and deputies were leaving the neighborhood, they spotted two more bottle bombs in a front yard two houses down.  They later found a fourth bomb in front of a third house down the street.  It took about three hours for the bomb squad to safely dispose of everything.

Whether the bombs were a dangerous prank, or something more sinister is not yet clear.  Either way, any arrests could bring serious consequences to anyone arrested in the case.

“You can lose a hand in this,” Rhinehart said.  “You can lose your sight.  Let alone the criminal aspect that comes from it as far as charges go.  It’s actually a felony to even construct these.”

Neighbors told investigators they saw two young men they didn’t recognize hanging out on the corner Saturday night.  One of them was wearing a backpack.  Detectives are working to track those two people down to see if they had anything to do with the bombs, or if they know who did.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at (317) 736-5155.