Authorities seek answers following newspaper bomb

AP News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2011 5:25 AM
Authorities seek answers following newspaper bomb

As an elderly California man recovered from surgery after being seriously injured by a bomb in his Sunday paper, investigators and neighbors sought answers: Who planted the device? And why?

The force of the blast nearly took off a finger on the man's right hand and caused other injuries to his arm and side, neighbors said.

"He was saying 'the bomb, the bomb,' so he had some idea of what had happened," said Gil Guerrero, a firefighter with emergency medical training who lives across the street from the victim and was at his side moments after the explosion.

But in the aftermath there are as many questions as answers.

Some details are still unknown. Some are being kept secret.

Police in Vacaville _ about halfway between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento _ would not identify the victim, who is in his 80s, and advised his family members not to release their names or discuss the case, in the event a threat to their safety remains.

The victim's wife and his son, who asked to be identified only as "John," got word Monday afternoon that the victim was in serious condition at University of California Davis medical center in Sacramento.

"We don't know any details about how he's doing," the son said. "Any surgery at his age is anything but routine."

Vacaville police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms worked Monday to identify the bomb-maker, but remained tight-lipped about the investigation. No suspects have been named, nor has a motive been established.

The bomb apparently was inside a newspaper, but it was unclear whether the newspaper was intended for the victim.

Neighbors said the blast left a depression about a foot across in the lawn between the victim's house and the one next door, and a scent of burning. Investigators dug out the blast site looking for evidence, leaving about a 3-foot-wide, water-filled crater in the yard.

Fear after the blast was a sharp contrast to pleasant memories that neighbors offered about the victim, who enjoyed riding his bicycle and working in his garden.

"He brought tomatoes over one time," neighbor John Marin said. The victim was originally from Spain, Marin added, but had been in the United States for a long time and moved to Vacaville from the Bay area to be close to family after he retired.

Guerrero said the man kept his garage meticulously clean and would often call "You have beautiful dogs!" when the firefighter took his Rottweilers for a walk.

Homes in the area on Monday had copies of at least two different publications sitting on their lawns and driveways, some delivered by subscription and others delivered for free as a promotion. That prompted another question, in which publication was the bomb planted?

Neighbors weren't sure, Marin said. "When I got over there, it looked like confetti."