MCFRS News Release

Five (5) Gaithersburg Youths Arrested for Making Chemical 'Soda' Bombs

Boys aged from 15 to 17 years-old

Five (5) local high school aged males from Gaithersburg have been arrested and charged for their parts involving several small explosions that occurred in the Kentland's area of Gaithersburg on March 9, 2007 and March 24, 2007. All of the suspects are students at Quince Orchard High School.

On March 9, 2007 around 10:30 p.m. units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service along with Fire and Explosive Investigators were called to assist the Montgomery County Police and Gaithersburg City Police for a 'post' blast investigation of a destructive device in the parking lot for the Rachel Carson Elementary School located at 100 Tschiffely Square Road, in Gaithersburg. Physical evidence collected at the scene indicated that unknown suspects has constructed and detonated a destructive device that had been activated by a chemical reaction, or more commonly known as a 'soda bomb'. Witnesses provided some leads.

About 11:00 p.m. on March 24, 2007, Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators responded to assist Gaithersburg City Police with another post blast investigation of another destructive device in the 100 block of Lake Street, in Gaithersburg. Again, physical evidence collected at the scene indicated that unknown suspects had constructed and detonated a destructive device that had been activated by a chemical reaction. However, this time the container ruptured striking and damaging a nearby residential structure. Damage was minimal. Again police and Fire and Explosive Investigators visited the neighborhood seeking possible leads. Based on information from the community several suspects were identified.

For several days thereafter investigators worked the case and developed additional leads and collected background information concerning the whereabouts of those believed to be involved. On March 28, 2007 two (2) juvenile suspects, males age 17 and 15, were questioned, arrested and charged with one count of a Manufacture/Possession of a Destructive Device and one count of Malicious Destruction of Property. The case was coordinated with the Department of Juvenile Justice and both were released into the custody of their parents.

During the first week of April several suspects and/or witnesses were interviewed. On April 9, 2007 a 16-year old male suspect met with Fire and Explosive Investigators. He was arrested and charged with one count of a Manufacture/Possession of a Destructive Device and one count of Reckless Endangerment. His case was coordinated with the Department of Juvenile Justice and he was released into the custody of his parents.

On April 10, 2007 a 17-year old male suspect presented himself to Investigators and on April 11, 2007 another 17-year old male suspect was interviewed by investigators. Both were subsequently arrested and charged with two (2) counts of Manufacture/Possession of a Destructive Device, one count of Malicious Destruction of Property one count of Reckless Endangerment. Their cases were coordinated with the Department of Juvenile Justice, as well, and both were released into the custody of their parents.

Fire and Explosive Investigators note that these destructive devices were made with common house hold cleaning products and other items purchased at local grocery and discount department stores. The combination of these house hold cleaning products and other items in a container cause a chemical reaction to occur in which hydrochloric acid is created causing an over pressurization of the container which causes the container to rupture violently expelling its corrosive contents. The manufacture/possession or use of theses destructive devices is a violation of the Maryland Annotated Code and is a felony punishable by a 25 year prison sentence and up to a $250,000 dollar fine.