The Blaine Police Department was evacuated, a bomb squad was called in and the FBI was contacted after a potential IED – improvised explosive device – was discovered in the trunk of a vehicle being searched by Blaine officers in their evidence bay.
On December 24 at about 9:30 a.m., two Blaine police officers executed a search warrant on a vehicle for the purpose of recovering marijuana and related paraphernalia. The vehicle, a black 1990 Honda Accord owned by 19-year-old Charles Daniel Padilla, was being stored in the Blaine Police Department’s secure vehicle evidence bay on H Street, and the points of access to the vehicle had been sealed with evidence tape prior to executing the warrant.
During the course of the search, one of the officers discovered what appeared to be an IED in the trunk of the vehicle. The partially covered device consisted of a large rectangular black and silver case with red wiring traveling from the top of the case to the inside. The case had a key placed in a keyhole located on the top with a red button next to it. A wire junction attached to the backside of the keyhole had an additional wire coming from it, which was hooked to a D battery and traveled downward into the bottom of the case. This wire traveled toward a dark, unknown liquid substance in a water bottle.
After taking digital photographs of the device, the police department was evacuated immediately, and all staff members were advised to clear out of the building. One of the officers contacted Washington State Patrol (WSP) which deployed its bomb squad. While waiting for WSP to arrive, Blaine officers cleared the sidewalk and roadway outside the evidence bay and blocked the area off with cones and police tape.
WSP’s bomb squad arrived and inspected the device. “Upon arrival, the WSP bomb squad scanned the device and made sure it was inoperable,” said the police report. “The fluid in the canister was not an accelerant or explosive. They advised that the device was wired in such a way that it was only missing a small component and an actual combustible.”
However, WSP personnel could not positively identify the unknown fluid. Neither could U.S. Customs agents who also analyzed the fluid, which did not register as a specific chemical on their scanning machine. Over the course of several hours, WSP bomb technicians dismantled the device. The unknown liquid was seized for destruction by WSP, and the FBI was contacted since the incident “relates to the construction of potential explosive devices.”
Besides the potential IED, the search of the vehicle turned up “numerous” bags of suspected marijuana, bong stems and drug paraphernalia, as well as concentrated THC, brass knuckles, knives, a realistic-looking airsoft BB gun with CO2 cartridges and multiple empty bottles of alcohol.
At this point, it is unclear what charges Padilla could face as a result of possessing the device. “Everything was forwarded to the FBI for review,” said a Blaine Police Department spokesperson. Additional charges for the brass knuckles were forwarded to the Blaine prosecutor for review, since section 9.32.010 of the Blaine Municipal Code prohibits the possession of “metal knuckles” and certain other weapons.