Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for LAist comes from:

Man in custody after Pasadena police detonate suspicious device found on truck parked near KPCC headquarters

Scene outside KPCC's Pasadena headquarters after the station is evacuated due to a possible nearby bomb threat.
Nick Roman / KPCC
Scene outside KPCC's Pasadena headquarters after the station is evacuated due to a possible nearby bomb threat.

Police have arrested a 34-year-old Glendale man tied to a suspicious package that disrupted businesses along a stretch of S. Raymond Ave. in Pasadena on Monday night.

Theodore Bancarz taken into custody Tuesday for two misdemeanor drug warrants and released on citation to appear in court, according to a Pasadena police press release.

The device that authorities said Monday appeared to be a real explosive was not.

“All it was a plastic container used to ship drugs,” Jason Clawson, a lieutenant for the Pasadena police, told LAist/KPCC. It had been fixed to the truck with magnets.

GET THE LATEST: That Suspicious Device In Pasadena Was An Empty Drug Container, Police Say 

Officers searched Bancarz’s house and found a similar container that enclosed drugs and paraphernalia, according to the release.

On Monday night, three hours after the device was first discovered,  Pasadena police told reporters they had detonated it. The device had been found on a rental truck parked near a busy stretch of S. Raymond Ave. The detonation took place shortly after 9 p.m. near a U-Haul facility located at the corner of S. Raymond and California avenues.

Interim Pasadena Police Chief John E. Perez had warned everyone to be "prepared to hear a loud explosion." 

"It does look real," Perez said prior to the detonation, "I don't know if it is."

The device was described as cylindrical in shape, six to eight inches long, with tape and wiring attached to it. It did not explode when authorities detonated it.

"Chances are it was not a device, because we didn't hear a loud explosion," Perez said.

He said, however, authorities believe it had been intentionally made to look real.

"Absolutely. It was made to look like a device," he said, adding that their investigation was continuing. 

Asked what he'd say to someone who may have created it as a prank or a hoax, Perez said: "We'll catch you and you'll pay the price for really creating this type of device and the scare in the community."

Perez said evacuations of nearby businesses, including KPCC's station in the 400 block of S. Raymond, were done as a precaution after they were alerted to the suspicious vehicle in a phone call. That call came shortly before 6 p.m.

"We have a suspicious vehicle," Perez told KPCC/LAist at the time. "We are not sure if it has an explosive device on it, but it is suspicious -- the device that is there -- so we are trying to confirm what it is."

He later described the vehicle as a U-Haul truck parked on the street. He said patrol officers called to the scene were concerned the device was authentic, a possibility confirmed by explosive experts also called to the location. Earlier in the evening, Perez said the device was found underneath the truck. After it was detonated, he said it was located on the back of the truck. 

Perez said they are investigating  "who was in control of it, who had it last."

He said it had been some time since they'd had this scale of response to a possible threat. 

Asked whether the string of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats and CNN -- none of which exploded-- played a role in the response, Perez said law enforcement officials were, of course, aware of those incidents.

"However, we treat each situation with the facts that we have," he said, "and this one is being dealt with, with exactly what we are looking at."

Pasadena police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's bomb squad and Pasadena fire officials were all on the scene. The possible threat also disrupted service on Metro's Gold Line, which runs parallel to S. Raymond. Metro officials said buses had replaced train service between the Lake Station and Pasadena while authorities worked to deal with the device.

Passengers on the train reported being dropped at the South Pasadena Station and taken by bus to Memorial Station, bypassing the Fillmore and Del Mar Stations.

Jonathan Chang was on the train when it stopped.

"They just told us the train is not going any further," Chang said, who called his brother to come get him.

In addition, the CHP posted a SigAlert at 8:20 p.m. warning that all lanes of the 110 Freeway at Fair Oaks Ave. had been closed due to police activity. An hour later those lanes had reopened.

KPCC switched to BBC programming early as a result of the evacuation request. We apologize for any unexpected interruption in programming.

The evacuations included a homeless shelter, Union Station Homeless Services. Robert Morris said he'd been staying at the shelter, which sleeps about 50 people, for four months.

"I live here," he said. "They just told me we had to evacuate."

Morris said no one had briefed the residents on what was going on. He said they all depended on the shelter for beds and meals. 

Prior to the successful detonation of the device, Morris said he was worried about where they'd go. Asked about a backup plan he said:  "Sleep at the park, I guess. I don't know where they're going to put us."

Here's KPCC's All Things Considered Host Nick Roman talking to the police chief earlier tonight:

This story was originally published at 7:17 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29