A pipe bomb that sheriff’s deputies say did not blow up because it apparently malfunctioned was found Monday morning outside an El Dorado County Probation Department office.
The 8-inch-long section of pipe, capped at both ends, was on the ground in front of the main entrance of the probation department in Shingle Springs about 7 a.m. Monday. Deputies said a makeshift fuse was attached.
“The object appeared to have been hastily dropped by unknown individuals,” a news release from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office stated.
Sheriff’s officials said their explosives experts believe the pipe bomb had malfunctioned. They defused the device, and there were no injuries to people or property.
Brian Richart, the county’s chief probation officer, said employees arrive for work about 7 a.m. and that 10 to 20 people were in the building when a civilian employee spotted the device near the main entrance. The department’s offices are in a stand-alone building in a business park off Durock Road. He said the employee notified a deputy probation officer, who alerted a site manager, who in turn called 911. Employees evacuated the building via an exit at the other end of the building.
Richart said it is believed the device was in place before employees began arriving for work.
The general reaction among employees was shock when they learned that the suspicious object was determined to be an explosive device, Richart said. It was the first incident of its type for the department, he said.
“There were no threats and no apparent motive,” Richart said.
Because the Probation Department is an armed agency, he said, no specific person is assigned to provide security.
Richart said plans were already in the works to increase the level of video surveillance at the site. It is not yet known whether existing surveillance cameras recorded anyone planting the device. Richart said the video will be examined by sheriff’s investigators.
The El Dorado County Probation Department employs about 130 people, spread among offices in Shingle Springs, Placerville and South Lake Tahoe. Fewer than 50 are assigned to the Shingle Springs office, Richart said. A former deputy chief probation officer in Alameda County, he became El Dorado County’s chief probation officer in early December.
Richart said no other buildings in the business park were evacuated, although other tenants were advised of the situation and traffic through the parking lot was obstructed during the investigation.
Probation Department employees assigned to Shingle Springs worked off-site until about 10 a.m., when the area was cleared of any danger and they were able to return.
The investigation into who left the explosive device continued.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.