As the Globe has reported for well over one year now, someone or some persons have been setting off what sound and feel like bombs – very loud explosions in the middle of the night in residential neighborhoods around the city. Sacramento police have been responsive, but the response from the City’s elected officials: Silence.
The bombings were spread around the city, and seemed to be mostly in parks – until the bombers started bombing cars. In William Land Park where this Globe reporter lives, the bombers blew up a large event barrier, and part of the tree it was under. Naturally this left residents edgy and nervous.
But there is good news now: Following several recent car bomb explosions, the Sacramento Police Department caught and arrested two men for a “series of reported and unreported explosions.”
In November the Globe reported:
One home’s Ring camera caught this video of a car going the wrong way down a downtown alley in the middle of the night, dropping something, which eventually explodes sounding just like all of the other explosions. While we are not Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians, these aren’t bottle rockets, but certainly could be homemade explosives.
As I write this Sunday evening, another loud explosion just went off in the park at 5:53pm. The Globe immediately notified SacPD.
Recently I also reported being awakened at 2:25am by gunshots and then a short burst of automatic gunfire somewhere nearby in my neighborhood.
SacPD just reported:
Detectives arrested 23-year-old Cody Wiggs for a violation of Penal Code 18740 (Explode and Ignite a Destructive Device). During the investigation, officers and detectives served a search warrant at a residence while seizing active pipe bombs, along with other related evidence.
Detectives continued conducting extensive follow-up to identify additional suspect(s) in the explosions. As a result, 33-year-old Darren Melton was identified as a person involved in the manufacturing and possession of explosive devices. Detectives obtained a warrant for Melton’s arrest for violations of Penal Code 18740 (Explode and Ignite a Destructive Device) and Penal Code 18715(A)(1) (Possession of a Destructive Device/Explosive in a Public Place).
On March 23, 2022, detectives served a search warrant at Melton’s residence and located explosive precursor chemicals, fusing, and pipes. These items were consistent with the materials recovered during the initial investigation of Wiggs. Melton was taken into custody. As of March 24, 2022, Melton and Wiggs remain in custody at Sacramento County Correctional facilities.
Cars around the city were blown up by the homemade bombs.
Sacramento Police posted photos of the explosive precursor chemicals, fusing, and pipes:
The first photo is of pipes.
The green material in the third photo is time fuse, a fuse made to burn for a given time, especially to explode a bomb.
In the second photo, on the spice rack with powdered materials in the bottles, a few of the substances appear to be urea, ammonium nitrate, and picric acid being stored. Urea and ammonium nitrate are commonly used in homemade bomb making, but are primarily used in fertilizers to compensate for the lack of nitrogen in the soil.
Picric acid is a very dangerous material. According to UC Davis LibreTexts, “Picric acid is in the same family of nitroaromatic explosives as trinitrotoluene (TNT). It is no longer used as an explosive because of this type of reaction. A shock-insensitive explosive compound that forms shock-sensitive explosive salts with metals (such as lead) is too unwieldy for most usual applications.”
According to the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) under a cooperative agreement from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Explosives are classified according to the speed at which they react. High explosive materials, such as dynamite, Trinitrotoluene (TNT), C-4 and acetone peroxide, react at a rate faster than the speed of sound in that material (TATP), causing a loud detonation. These substances are tightly controlled to ensure they are not easily procured.”
“One of the most common explosives encountered by a bomb squad is a pipe bomb. A pipe bomb is a section of pipe that usually contains a low explosive powder mixture. The ends are capped and a fuse is inserted into the explosive powder. Upon explosion, the bomb sends shards of the pipe outward at a rapid speed. If a bomb has a hard casing, such as a steel pipe, large fragments may be found around the blast site. If a bomb has a soft casing, it will generally leave smaller fragments behind.”
“Improvised explosive devices (IED) – The term “IED” has become commonplace since U.S. involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These homemade devices can be delivered in a myriad of different designs – from letter bombs to roadside bombs. IEDs employ at least four key components: a power supply, initiator, explosive material and a switch. A typical IED marries an explosive main charge with electrical fusing system that can contain components from a device such as a mobile phone or garage door opener.”
SacPD is to be commended for these arrests, in collaboration with the Sacramento Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team, Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU), Sacramento Area Apprehension Team (SAAT), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all played an integral role in the investigations and related apprehensions.