Police and bomb experts evacuated a portion of downtown Coeur d’Alene Tuesday after two explosive devices were found in the trunk of a car.
James D. Dove, 30, of Coeur d’Alene, was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and keeping explosives within city limits.
The explosive devices found inside his car were small and investigators believe they were not connected to three recent explosions in Spokane.
Still, the incident shut down a main thoroughfare for much of Tuesday and frightened some Coeur d’Alene residents after news of explosions in Spokane earlier this week and last month.
“It’s very scary,” said Sue Mitchell, who was working in the nearby Kootenai County Title Co. office when police and bomb experts descended on the car at the corner of Sherman Avenue and Seventh Street.
“It’s serious for Coeur d’Alene and I think it’s serious for America - this is becoming so prevalent,” said Fred Kroetch, a Coeur d’Alene resident who was driving by during the evacuation. “I think Coeur d’Alene will wake up now, like Spokane got a wake up call.”
Coeur d’Alene Police arrested Dove at about 11 a.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of the Zip Stop Convenience Store, 701 Sherman.
While searching his 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, investigators discovered the two explosive devices in the trunk.
Coeur d’Alene Police surrounded the convenience store with bright yellow warning tape. They blocked off Sherman from Sixth to Ninth streets and evacuated the Zip Stop along with Zip’s Drive-In, The Red Rose Motel and the Senor Froggy restaurant.
Ruth Derr was working at the Zip Stop when officers pulled Dove over in the parking lot. After about 20 minutes an officer came inside the store.
“The police officer said I should probably close the store because the car had bombs in it,” she said.
Although the warning didn’t excite Derr, her sister, who was about to come on shift at the time, wasn’t so calm.
Burnice Hauser’s heart pounded as she and Derr cleared out the customers, shut off the lights and locked the doors.
“It’s a scary feeling; you see so much of it any more you just don’t know what could happen,” Hauser said.
The Spokane bomb squad arrived in the early afternoon with its bomb retrieval robot named Elvis. Onlookers watched from a block away as the remote controlled robot rolled up to the car’s open trunk, plucked out the explosives, then placed them inside a explosion-proof container.
Coeur d’Alene Police Capt. Carl Bergh described the first device as a metal tube, about three inches long and the size of a person’s little finger. The second device was round and about the size of a handball and appeared to have a putty surface.
Both devices had fuses in them and were wrapped in clear plastic, Bergh said.
Although Coeur d’Alene Police were waiting for the Spokane bomb squad to fully examine the devices, initial investigations suggests the devices were not large enough to destroy a building, said Lt. Don Jiran.
“Mr. Dove has indicated that he constructed them at home and they were more like fireworks,” Capt. Bergh said.
Despite their size, Jiran said officials decided to evacuate such a large area in part because the devices were near gas pumps.
“If you don’t take the precautions and something does happen, everyone in the world is going to say ‘Why didn’t you protect the public?”’ Jiran said. “With the national trend and the incidents in Spokane, it was definitely appropriate.”
Dove’s arrest on Tuesday was the result of an ongoing drug investigation by the Kootenai County Drug Task Force.
On April 12, investigators served a search warrant at another man’s apartment on South 10th Street in Coeur d’Alene. Officers found 17.8 grams of methamphetamine and about five grams of what appeared to be marijuana, according to court records.
While police were searching the apartment, Dove showed up wanting to talk to the man who had been arrested. He was carrying an infant with him and a diaper bag.
Police asked Dove if he had any drugs in the diaper bag and he said he didn’t, Bergh said.
Dove began pulling items out of the diaper bag to show that he didn’t have any drugs, but as he was doing that, officers spotted a pipe.
Officers searched the baby bag and found another pipe along with a plastic cup with a white powdery residue in it, Bergh said.
Dove was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. He later was released on bond.
On Tuesday morning, tests conducted on the white powder confirmed that it was methamphetamine, Bergh said.
Task force officers went to Dove’s home, 120 Borah Ave., to arrest him. But as they knocked on the front door, he left out the back door, Bergh said.
Officers caught up with Dove at the Zip Stop where they arrested him. Investigators found a pipe in his pocket and in the vehicle, Bergh said.
A search of his home on Tuesday turned up no more explosives.
Dove is being held at the Kootenai County Jail.
The explosives were destroyed by the Spokane bomb squad.
Traffic routes and business in the area were reopened about 3:30 p.m.
“It’s just sad that we have to live with these people who have these problems and inflict them on other innocent people,” Burnice Hauser said.
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