According to this Dakota County Criminal Complaint, a group of teenagers set off “explosive devices” in violation of Minnesota Statute 609.668 EXPLOSIVE AND INCENDIARY DEVICES, a felony which carries a penalty of 0-10 Years and/or $6,000.00 – $20,000.00 in fines. A quick Google search for similar devices shows what some may consider fairly harmless explosions no worse than your typical Wisconsin-purchased fireworks and another search of Dakota County Criminal Complaints shows only three people charged (two in one single incident) with either explosives or fireworks in the last 4+ years.
From the complaint:
On March 23, 2012 at approximately 10:00 p.m., an officer with the Lakeville Police Department was dispatched to the area of Grinnell Avenue and Grove Trail located in the City of Lakeville, County of Dakota, State of Minnesota on the report of a loud explosion.
Upon arrival, the officer located a melted plastic bottle containing tin foil and a liquid chemical in the front yard of a home located on the 16000 block of Grinnell Avenue. The officer was not able to locate any suspects at the scene. Lakeville officers subsequently learned that a second explosive device had been detonated at a home located on the 16000 block of Griffon Lane also located in the City of Lakeville.
On March 23, 2012 at approximately 10:30 p.m., an officer with the Apple Valley Police Department was dispatched to the 1000 block of Whitney Drive located in the City of Apple Valley, County of Dakota, State of Minnesota on the report that two bombs had been detonated in the complainant’s front yard.
Johnson reported that he had purchased bathroom cleaner earlier that evening for the purpose of making explosive devices. Johnson reported that each of the individuals had purchased a different component needed to make the explosive devices. Johnson reported that he’d been the driver that evening and that he’d thrown an explosive device at one house. Johnson provided the officer with the remaining supplies which included six bottles of tonic water and two rolls of tin foil.
A.M. reported that he’d purchased twelve two liter bottles of tonic water used to make the explosive devices. A.M. admitted to throwing “more than five” of the explosive devices at three homes. A.M. reported that they’d chosen one home in Apple Valley and two homes in Lakeville because they were the homes of their friends or acquaintances. A.M. reported that they’d detonated one explosive device away from any homes as a test before going to any of the homes.
T.A. reported that they’d gone to three or four homes and that he’d thrown two of the explosive devices. T.A. reported that they “did it as a joke” and were “just goofing around”.
Curious as to what sort of bomb could be made from the ingredients listed in the complaint, I did a quick Google search for bathroom cleaner tin foil and watched a few of the videos, one of which I chose to share above.
As you can see from the video the explosion is similar to that of fairly tame fireworks legal in other surrounding states but far too dangerous for residents of the Nanny State. Considering I have an archive of Dakota County Criminal Complaints going back several years I figured I would be able to locate at least several other similar violations for fireworks and other explosive device violations, especially being that around New Years and Independence Day there are any number of people setting off explosions of a similar caliber all over the South Metro. What I found may surprise you however:
In a search of Dakota County Criminal Complaints going back as far as late 2007, there have been only three explosive and/or fireworks violations which have reached the criminal complaint level. The first, back in November of 2007 dealt with a self-inflicted injury caused by attempts to fill a C02 cartridges with gunpowder to create IEDs. The other two (here and here) were from a single related incident where a motorist was stopped and charged with drug and fireworks possession.
While I certainly don’t appreciate, nor condone, the use of exploding devices (including fireworks) even as “goofing around”, I have a hard time understanding why this 18 year old would be charged with a felony carrying such hefty fines and possible jail time when so many others regularly set off illegal fireworks and get off without as much as a visit from the police.
After watching the video above, and several of the others the Google search returns, and comparing to explosions created by legally obtained fireworks in neighboring states illegally detonated in Minnesota, do you think that this individual (just over a month after his 18th birthday) should be charged with a felony when so many others do much the same thing repeatedly at various other times of the year and receive no penalty for their actions? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.