NEWPORT CITY – Quick action by Newport City Police averted a potential disaster Saturday evening.
During a telephone interview Sunday morning, Sgt. Seth DiSanto said police received an anonymous 911 call from someone who observed three individuals making a pipe bomb Saturday.
Police found the vehicle in question on Coventry Street. The alleged suspects, identified by DiSanto as Jonathan Glover, Nathaniel Chaffee and Cody MacFarlane, would not consent to police searching the vehicle.
Border Patrol Agents responded with a trained dog that alerted on the front driver side bumper area of the vehicle, DiSanto said.
“When the dog started scratching at the car, it fell out,” said DiSanto of the pipe bomb. “The Border Patrol Agent advised us what he'd located.”
Police evacuated three individuals from their home. The other homes in the nearby area were vacant.
The Newport City Fire Department, the state police bomb squad (with members from the Derby and St. Johnsbury barracks), and the Newport Ambulance Service responded to the scene, which began to unfold just before 6 p.m.
The fire department blocked off Coventry Street by the South Bay Fishing Access and by Pleasant Street Extension from just after 6 p.m. until about 10:30 p.m.
The state police bomb squad used some “type of charge” to make the device safe, said DiSanto. He said city police collected the device as evidence. “They didn’t blow it up, because I still have it in one piece,” he said.
The public was in danger, DiSanto said. Police charged the individuals with possession of destructive device.
“These guys were driving around with a pipe bomb in their car,” he said. “Had it gone off at any point and time, obviously the people inside the vehicle were going to be seriously injured.”
DiSanto doesn’t know what the blast radius would have been and doubts the individuals knew either. “They told us they learned how to do this by watching YouTube,” said DiSanto. “I would say they didn’t have a frigging clue what they were doing.”
Police have no information to believe the individuals built more than one device or were planning to use the bomb in a terrorist fashion.
“At one point, one of them made a comment that they were going to go to a sandpit and see what happened,” said DiSanto.
Police lodged the men at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport. Bail for Glover and MacFarlane was $1,000. Chaffee’s bail is $2,500.