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Rossmoor 'acid bombs' probed as hate crime by human rights group

December 4, 2012 |  4:04 pm

Authorities are investigating "acid bombs" -- small explosives made from a compound of household chemicals -- left on the lawn of an African American woman living in Rossmoor, Orange County sheriff's officials said.

A woman called law enforcement shortly after 7 a.m. Sunday to report that she had found several plastic bottles containing a blue liquid near the driveway of her home on the 3000 block of Mainway Drive.

As she was on the phone with the authorities, one of the bottles exploded, sounding like a gunshot, said Investigator Kent McBride of the Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad.

By the time authorities arrived, the others -- three in the driveway and another on the lawn, as well as one in a tree in the park across the street -- had not gone off, McBride said. The bomb squad cordoned off the area and disabled the explosives.

The acid bombs, he said, can be potentially devastating, capable of ripping apart the hand of someone holding it, and the noise can rupture ear drums. 

McBride said no one was injured Sunday and that there were no suspects.

KTLA-TV reported that the woman who lives in the home, who is black, said in an off-camera interview that she feared her family was targeted and that the attack was racially motivated.

McBride, however, said that at this point in the investigation there was "no evidence it was a hate crime," with no graffiti or "obvious intent to damage property or to terrify." But that could change pending further investigation.

Rusty Kennedy, executive director of the O.C. Human Relations Commission, said Tuesday that the commission was reviewing the incident. "We're looking into it now and looking into it as a possible hate crime," he said.

The incident follows a reported uptick in hate crimes targeting African Americans in Orange County, according to a Human Relations Commission report covering 2011, although African Americans make up only 2% of the increasingly diverse county's population.

One recently publicized case was the plight of a Yorba Linda family who fled their home after years of taunts, slurs and vandalism directed at them. The family said the final straw came when someone fired acid pellets into their garage, damaging their cars.

The incident has prompted a series of forums on issues affecting the African American community in Orange County, which begin Saturday at Christ Our Redeemer Church in Irvine.

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--Rick Rojas

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