INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (July 31, 2015) - One by one, four cars rigged with bombs explode at a Northwest side park. IMPD and bomb squad technicians standing nearby waiting for the thick smoke and debris surrounding the cars to clear before 26 IUPUI students step in to sift through the wreckage.
“We bring out the explosives, we bring out the devices. We place them in the vehicle and then set them off to help the students learn how to do a post blast investigation,” says IMPD Sgt. and Bomb Squad member Frederick Lantzer.
The car explosions are modeled after actual Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms cases, using the same type of device used in those crimes. The ATF scenarios used for training the students include a husband installing a pipe bomb underneath the seat of his wife's car, a car bomb activated remotely by a cell phone and also a handmade fire work bomb that was set off inside of the car. The students then search for evidence inside of the vehicle.
“You’re looking for a power source and every car has an electrical system. So, you can have a device that is set as soon as they turn the key or press the brake pedal. It just has to have some type of electrical circuit that is complete to set it off,” says Sgt. Lantzer.
IMPD and bomb squad instructors tell the students to ignore the glass and debris from the explosion and focus on finding evidence inside of the car like frayed wires or the bar code on a PVC pipe.
“We are looking for any parts that do not match the specific vehicle that we are working on. Such as wiring that is not associated with the car, metal fragments that don’t go or wouldn’t match. Any residue or powder, anything that is out of the ordinary,” says IUPUI student and ATF intern Charles Terry.
Bomb squad techs say pipe bombs are the most common explosive device. They are made of a tightly sealed pipe filled with explosive material that can create a lethal explosion.
“They are little PVC pipes with Black powder in it. People use what they can get their hands on in a store or a fireworks place,” says Sgt. Lantzer.
Working with IMPD and bomb squad techs on the scene of a post blast crime scene is an invaluable lesson for the IUPUI students who are looking to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“I do not know of any other students that get to work their own crime scene without being in law enforcement,” says IMPD Sgt. and IUPUI instructor Stephen Davis.