A man who had what he said was an explosive device in his pants pocket was arrested Wednesday afternoon after authorities cordoned off an area for several hours.
Spokane County sheriff’s officials arrested Lloyd L. Gabel, 51, near his home at the Hilltop Mobile Home Park on Sunset Highway west of Spokane at about 3:45 p.m. He was cooperative and was detained without incident, said Sgt. Scott Szuke of the Sheriff’s Office.
The park manager called authorities at about 11:30 a.m. and said he thought Gabel had been building bombs at his home, spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said.
Szuke said the manager called because Gabel was threatening to hurt several people.
When deputies arrived at Gabel’s home, they called him out and asked him about making bombs, Reagan said. Gabel told them he had a device in his pocket, so authorities handcuffed him, sat him down on a bench and called the bomb squad.
Officials, including Washington State Patrol troopers, advised residents to evacuate the trailer park and closed off Sunset Highway between Lewis Street and Geiger Boulevard.
“Most of this was precautionary,” Szuke said at the scene. “It’s not like he said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a gun, I’m going to kill people.’ “
A member of the bomb squad, dressed in resistant padding, cut the golf-ball-size device out of Gabel’s pocket. Authorities then took Gabel downtown, where he was charged with unlawful possession of an explosive device – a felony.
“As described, it could have significantly injured or killed someone,” Reagan said of the device.
Authorities found bomb-making materials inside Gabel’s home but did not find more devices, he said.
Residents were allowed back into the park at about 4:15 p.m.
An abnormally high number of complaints about fireworks and explosions have recently come from the area, according to a news release.
According to a check of Spokane County Superior Court records, Gabel was convicted in 1995 of domestic violence.