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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man loses hand and suffers other serious injuries after homemade bomb explodes in north Spokane County

Harold Carlson stood on the porch of his north Spokane County home Tuesday afternoon, fighting the chill and a nagging desire to tidy the place up.

“Sorry about the mess,” the homeowner said. “Just glad nobody else was hurt.”

Inches away from the man in gray coveralls and sporting a bushy gray beard was a broom handle, empty propane tank, floor mat and dozens of other items in disarray piled high on both sides of an open walkway.

It’s where, less than 24 hours earlier, a man named Leonard – his last name unknown to Carlson – blew off his hand Monday evening when a homemade bomb detonated just outside the front door.

“I don’t know what his intentions were,” the 68-year-old said of his friend of four months. “He wasn’t trying to blow anything up. I know that much.”

Carlson, who’s lived in the home at 35820 N. Waldrons Lane 10 miles northeast of Chattaroy for more than 20 years, said Leonard had been staying over for a few nights helping him and another friend chop and stack a large pile of wood that still sat in his front yard. It was during a break from the work at about 6:15 p.m. when Carlson said he and another friend inside the home heard a large bang outside.

Leonard had apparently fashioned a bomb from a ball mount that would normally fasten onto a trailer hitch. Using gunpowder, Carlson said, his friend must have filled the chamber completely, and then accidentally or intentionally set the device off.

The explosion, which could be heard several hundred yards away, according to neighbors, obliterated one of Leonard’s hands – Carlson wasn’t sure which one. Debris from the ball mount also tore through several items on the porch, taking out a large section of plastic from a paint bucket, puncturing an inner tube and scraping thick chunks of wood off the floor.

Carlson said after hearing the explosion, he looked out his front window and saw Leonard with a “funny look on his face.” When he exited the home, he found him in the front driveway, a steady stream of blood marking the path.

“That’s when I noticed his hand wasn’t there,” he said.

A call was placed to 911, and not long after, a helicopter arrived and transported Leonard to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies say he was in critical condition Tuesday morning.

Deputies, who referred to Leonard only as a 59-year-old male, said he suffered “severe, life-threatening injuries” as a result of the explosion. Carlson said deputies and bomb technicians investigated for several hours.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are not involved in the investigation, said Deputy Mark Gregory, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. No criminal charge have been filed.

Carlson insisted Leonard wasn’t building the device with the intention of doing harm. More likely, he said, the man was just messing around.

“He’s a really good guy,” he said. “He’s got a good heart.”