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Exploding prank sees three teens arrested
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A prank seen on YouTube involving an exploding soda bottle went horribly awry for three teenagers when they re-created the stunt and it injured a 66-year-old Turlock man and prompted a bomb scare in a normally serene Turlock neighborhood.
“They said they saw it on YouTube and thought it would be a funny joke to play,” said Turlock Police Lt. Jeff Lopes. “It’s basically a more sophisticated version of leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on a doorstep, but in this case, it had a serious outcome.”
The consequences of the ill-thought prank could prove serious indeed for the three teens. The 66-year-old victim suffered minor injuries from the explosion and the teens — two 15 year old boys and one 16 year old boy — are each facing felony charges of possession and manufacturing of an explosive device.
The incident began around 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the 800 block of Cedar Ridge Road. According to the police report, the three teens had made several explosive devices by combining household chemicals in a soda bottle. The chemical reaction combined with the pressure causes the bottle to combust. The report says the teens practiced with two bottles before leaving one of the 2-liter bottles on the doorstep of the Cedar Ridge residence.
Lopes said the teens left the bottle on the porch, rang the doorbell, and hid nearby to watch.
But the device didn’t explode as expected, or at least when they expected it to, Lopes said. Instead, it went off when the victim was holding it in his hands. The explosion caused scorching and swelling to the man’s arms and some redness to his face. The man was attended to by medical personnel at the scene and declined any further medical treatment, Lopes said.
Seeing that things had gone wrong, the teens ran off to their respective homes, Lopes said.
The victim contacted the Turlock Police Department to report the explosion and when additional bottles were found around the property, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad, as well as the Turlock City Fire Department were brought out to investigate and neutralize the combustibles. The neighborhood was cordoned off and the bomb squad detonated the remaining explosives.
The presence of law enforcement in the quiet suburb got at least one mother questioning her son about his recent activities, Lopes said, and then the teen came clean to her.
“At least one of them had the gumption to come forward,” Lopes said.
By day’s end all three boys had admitted to the law enforcement officials still on scene that they had been responsible for the explosion and all were brought to the police department voluntarily by their parents, Lopes said.
The 66-year-old victim was just a random choice by the boys Lopes said and was not targeted for a specific reason.
During questioning one of the teens told an investigator that they were looking for something to do because the rain had canceled their baseball practice.
A relative of one of the accused spoke to the Journal on Tuesday and said all three of the teens were being held at the Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall pending a court date today.
“It was a stupid prank that went wrong,” said the relative. “Hopefully we can take this and turn it into a lesson for everyone.”
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.