As many as 17 bored high school students may have been involved in a string of small explosions that damaged three vehicles and a home in Spokane Valley neighborhoods, sheriff’s officials said Monday.
All of the students - ages 16 to 18 - attend Central Valley and University high schools and were on spring vacation, said sheriff’s Capt. Doug Silver.
“A number of them said they were bored and were looking to have some fun,” Silver said.
Detectives initially thought there were three blasts, but on Monday connected a fourth explosion - already under investigation - to the others. It is not yet known how many of the teens were involved in each incident.
No arrests have been made, but information about the case will be forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office Wednesday, Silver said.
Charges could be filed against the teenagers, some of whom have confessed their involvement, by the end of the week.
The explosions occurred last week during a 30-hour period in quiet, well-kept Valley neighborhoods, causing several thousand dollars’ damage. The targets of the explosions - two cars, a dump truck, and a house - appear to have been chosen at random, Silver said.
The teenagers face charges ranging from first-degree arson and malicious mischief, both felonies, to failure to report a violent crime, a misdemeanor.
“The potential for injury is so great when you use any type of explosive device that we don’t take it lightly,” Silver said.
Several of the teens are good students and some may be athletes, Silver said. Officials have not released the teens’ identities, but Silver said the behavior was out of character for several of the alleged participants.
Acting on a tip a sheriff’s deputy received last week, detectives identified a group of 10 to 12 students thought to be responsible for the explosions. Interviews with those teens helped detectives identify additional suspects and connect the fourth explosion, which shattered the windshield of an Oldsmobile Cutlass parked in front of a house at 11327 E. 31st on April 6.
A few hours after that blast, a second explosion shattered a window and bent the door frame of an unoccupied dump truck parked in the Ponderosa neighborhood several blocks away.
Early on April 8, an explosive shattered the windshield of a Ford Taurus, causing damage estimated at $1,800. Forty minutes later, another explosion blew a fist-sized hole in a living room window less than a half-mile away.
No one was injured by any of the blasts.
“Now that they realize that we know what happened, there’s a lot more people coming forward with information,” said Silver, adding detectives are confident they have identified all of the participants.
The explosive devices were made from carbon dioxide cartridges and gunpowder, and taped to their targets, Silver said. Detectives seized two 1-pound jugs of gun powder from an undisclosed location.
It was not known how the students learned to make the explosive devices, said Silver, but the information can be easily obtained.