COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — A man who was killed when a homemade explosive blew up at his California home was an eccentric who bicycled around his neighborhood dispensing anti-government conspiracy pamphlets, a neighbor said Monday.
"He definitely seemed paranoid about things and people," Donna Swift said. "It was getting more extreme."
A bomb squad, the FBI and other investigators descended on a quiet street of ranch-style homes in the Orange County city of Costa Mesa after the 52-year-old man died in a Sunday night blast.
His name wasn't immediately released.
An ambulance had been called about 90 minutes earlier when neighbors saw the man lying on his front lawn, but he refused offers of help and went inside, neighbors said.
Police were called about 7:30 p.m. after neighbors heard the explosion, and the man was found dead at his home.
The man apparently was killed by a homemade explosive device but it was not immediately clear whether the blast was accidental or suicide, police said.
At least three homemade explosive devices, including at least one pipe bomb, were found.
"There was one upon his person, one nearby — so we believe he was possibly wearing two — and there was one contained within the house," police Sgt. Jerry Hildeman said.
The others were safely blown up by bomb disposal experts.
Swift, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years, said the man apparently had lived in the same home three doors down from hers since birth. He apparently lived there at first with his parents and brothers but currently lived alone and may have inherited the home, she said.
He was "a little off," she said.
"He was kind of a recluse, super-bright but very reclusive," she said. "Never worked and (was) always on his bike."
He passed out pamphlets to neighbors and stores, including a brochure that he called "The Pricker," Swift said.
About 11 years ago, he wrote a 14-page document that he distributed which contained some neighbors' names and which prompted police to take him in for a 72-hour mental examination, Swift said.
Despite being odd, however, her neighbor always seemed polite and unthreatening. Swift said she had him over for dinner several times.
"I never felt that I couldn't be around him," she said.
A long, rambling article called "The Pricker" posted on the Internet mentions the man's address and is subtitled: "A True Story of Assassination, Terrorism And High Treason."
The article, dated 2002 and updated in 2005, says the pricker is a concealable weapon that can inject diseases into victims without their knowledge and contends that U.S. government assassins had infected people with AIDS and other diseases.
A variety of other plots are mentioned and the writer adds: "There are more plots coming, more subtle and powerful motivational implants, robot weapons, biological weapons, and colossal deceptions. We all need to realize that if we do not get this situation under control (or out from under control), that our entire species will perish."