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8 found pipe bombs were live, official says

Updated: 07/31/07 6:57 AM

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Eight out of 10 pipe bombs belonging to Thomas A. Dodge found on Grand Island and in Niagara Falls last week were live and had the potential to be “very dangerous,” the Erie County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad determined Monday.


The bombs varied in size and were loaded with shrapnel. Two were found last week in a backpack Dodge had when he was killed Wednesday night by a sheriff’s deputy on Grand Island, and the rest were found during a search afterward of his 10th-floor apartment at Parkway Condominiums on Buffalo Avenue in the Falls.

Lt. Sean M. Simet, of the bomb squad, said he was unable to talk about the squad’s methods for disabling the bombs, but said they were “remotely rendered safe” on the Erie County firing range in Cheektowaga.

Simet was unable to speculate on the fire power on any one of the bombs, saying deputies don’t set off a device, but instead prevent the device from firing.

“I can’t get into what kind of powder was used,” he said. “We keep that close to the vest or it would make our job harder. I can say they varied in size and strength, and were primitive but effective.

“There is always a problem when shrapnel starts flying and it can hurt and injure people who are 30 to 40 feet away.”

Dodge, 30, left no clues, no notes, no reason as to why he had stored an arsenal in his apartment and built the bombs.

The former resident of Grand Island was shot dead by Erie County Deputy Thomas Meredith after Dodge shot a former girlfriend three times Wednesday night at her Crescent Road home. The neighborhood was evacuated after Dodge was discovered with two guns and the pair of pipe bombs.

Those bombs were found Monday to be live explosives.

Six of the eight bombs found at Dodge’s condo also were found to be live. The condominiums also were evacuated while police removed those bombs, several assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition Thursday morning.

Simet said if all of the bombs were activated it would have had an “exponential effect,” but said that type of scenario would depend on many things.

“People don’t fully understand the risks of working with explosives. They are highly unstable. There are no warning labels,” Simet said of the bombmaking stockpile in Dodge’s condominium.

Simet said the two pipe bombs found in a backpack “didn’t look like he showed any intent to deploy them at the time he was confronted [by Deputy Meredith]. There were no remote control devices.”