By Marty Graham
POTRERO, California (Reuters) - Authorities arrested a 39-year-old man suspected of killing his girlfriend on Tuesday by shooting a homemade cannon into a room of their remote California trailer home.
Richard Dale Fox, who was treated for wounds he suffered in the blast, was booked on suspicion of detonating an explosive device in a manner resulting in death, said San Diego Sheriff's Department homicide Sergeant David Martinez.
The bizarre blast and death occurred just north of the California town of Potrero, which is across the border from Tecate, Mexico, and less than 40 miles inland from San Diego.
Martinez said it was "too early to say" if the Tuesday morning blast was accidental, but authorities had previously indicated Fox was drinking at the time and that he was distraught as emergency responders arrived at the trailer home.
Authorities declined to comment on the nature of the homemade cannon or the projectile it fired, but Martinez said Fox used explosive powder from fireworks to ignite the contraption.
The woman inside the home who was killed by the cannon blast was Fox's 38-year-old girlfriend, Martinez said. Officials had earlier described her as Fox's wife and had said her age was 33.
The name of the woman, who police said died at the scene of shrapnel wounds, was not immediately released.
She was inside the trailer home with the couple's 4-year-old child and three adults, and all those occupants were unharmed, Martinez told reporters.
Fox was transported to a hospital with leg injuries suffered in the blast. After his treatment, Fox was booked into jail. No bail has been set.
The couple's mobile home trailer, dotted with solar panels on the roof, is located in mountainous terrain strewn with boulders, in a rural area where sheep and dogs occasionally wander the roads.
Homicide investigators were combing through the property hours after the blast.
(Reporting by Marty Graham: Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Paul Thomasch)