Flashlight found on Mesa street tested for explosives; police to destroy - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Flashlight found on Mesa street tested for explosives; police to destroy

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Posted: Monday, July 9, 2012 12:10 pm | Updated: 12:32 pm, Mon Jul 9, 2012.

Mesa police are destroying a yellow flashlight that was discovered lying in the street at the intersection of Val Vista and Broadway late Saturday, raising concerns that it might be connected to a serial “flashlight bomber” from recent incidents in the Valley where people have been injured after discovering flashlights rigged to explode.

Shortly after 9 p.m., police responded to a call from a resident who discovered the yellow 6-volt flashlight in the roadway that was similar to at least three other incidents involving IED flashlights found in Phoenix and Glendale in recent weeks, police said.

The intersection was blocked off and members of Mesa’s bomb unit responded to the scene and conducted X-rays on the flashlight.

No explosives were found inside the flashlight and officers plan to destroy it. It is known for certain whether the flashlight is connected to the ones discovered in Phoenix and Glendale that exploded, causing minor injuries to people or if any fingerprints were retrieved from it, according to Sgt. Tony Landato, a Mesa police spokesman.

Residents are reminded not to pick up any flashlights they may discover in the roadway or in their neighborhood as there have been a number of incidents in recent months involving flashlights rigged to explode.

On May 13 in Glendale, a woman discovered one of the rigged flashlights and attempted to turn it on. It exploded, causing only minor scratches and bruises to her face and hands. The next day, a man was working in different part of Glendale and found a similar flashlight in a ditch. When he tried to power on the flashlight it too exploded, again causing only minor injuries

Then, About 3:30 p.m. on May 24, a flashlight rigged with explosives went off Thursday inside a collection bin at a Salvation Army distribution center in south-central Phoenix, slightly injuring two employees, according to Phoenix police.

Police said preliminary evidence suggested that incident was linked to two other recent cases in Glendale in which someone left flashlights packed with explosives in open areas of the city.

The Salvation Army distribution center and nearby areas were evacuated as a precaution and police brought in a bomb squad to investigate the explosion.

Days following numerous billboards were placed throughout the Valley, displaying a large yellow flashlight and warning people not to pick them up.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Phoenix serial “flashlight” bomber.

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