Stamford teens arrested with explosives

The Stamford Advocate

Jeff Morganteen, Staff Writer
Updated 12:21 p.m., Tuesday, May 3, 2011

STAMFORD — Three city teenagers were arrested Friday night when Stamford patrol officers pulled over a car and found what police said are improvised explosive devices among a cache of weapons and bomb-making materials.

In addition to also discovering pellet and paintball guns in the vehicle, police found gasoline, glass bottles and lighter fluid — materials that could be used to create homemade fire bombs known as Molotov cocktails, Stamford police Capt. Brian McElligott said. The teens were arrested in the Springdale neighborhood, where police stepped up patrols and surveillance last week after a fire bomb was thrown against a wall on Gaymoor Drive and extinguished by firefighters, police said.

The first-responding officers spotted what seemed to be improvised explosive devices, according to Sgt. Lou DeRubeis, head of the department’s Explosives Disposal Unit, who declined to describe the devices. The officers detained the teens and called in the department’s bomb squad, which removed three homemade explosives from the car.

The explosives were taken to a safe location and detonated with a counter charge, DeRubeis said. DeRubeis said the explosives were unstable and needed to be destroyed.

“It was a definitely an improvised explosive device that would cause serious physical injury and possibly death,” he said.

Twenty-one individual commercially available fireworks were also found in the car, but they were deemed illegal, police said. The fireworks, known as M2000s, are available for purchase in states outside Connecticut, where they are illegal.

Members of the department’s Neighborhood Impact Unit, a roaming patrol squad headed by Sgt. Tom Scanlon, pulled over the teen’s car around 11:30 p.m. Friday after seeing it make a motor vehicle violation, McElligott said. Officers saw a handgun and rifle in the car that later turned out to be pellet guns.

The teenagers’ names were not disclosed since they are being treated as juveniles as of Monday afternoon, police said. McElligott said the teens were released to their parents after their arrest.

Defense attorney Mark Sherman is representing one of the teenagers. He said he has not yet seen the police reports, but described his client as an honors student who attends Stamford Public Schools.

“It’s critical that people don’t jump to conclusions here as it is very early in the court process,” Sherman said. “A lot of information as to what happened here needs to be sorted out.”

Attorney Joseph Colarusso, who is defending another one of the Stamford juveniles, said he disagreed with language used by police to describe the homemade bombs.

“We’re still waiting to get a hold of the police reports,” Colarusso said. “I would take issue with the classification as being improvised explosive devices. I don’t think we’re talking about anything close to what that denotes.”

DeRubeis said the youths face charges of manufacturing explosives for the three homemade bombs and 21 counts of illegal possession of an explosive device for the fireworks. They also face weapons charges.

“The community is much better off with them off the streets and the materials out of their possession,” DeRubeis said.

Staff WriterJeff Morganteen can be reached at jeff.morganteen@scni.com or 203-964-2215.

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