Colo. Massacre Highlights Threat of Homemade Bombs

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SMITHFIELD, Va. -- Colorado authorities say massacre suspect James Holmes armed his apartment with explosives meant to kill anyone who tried to enter the home.

Special teams were able to detonate the explosives without harm, but the rigged apartment is highlighting the issue of homemade bombs.

Investigators say they are becoming a bigger problem in the United States and they want the public to become more aware of the problem.

A Chilling Demonstration

Weapons experts recently detonated an abandoned school bus in a remote region of Smithfield, Va., using less than 10 pounds of homemade explosives.

It serves as a chilling demonstration of the power of bombs that can be made anywhere, with items found right under your kitchen sink and by anyone - including terrorists.

One of the goals of detonating the bus is to make authorities aware that a lot of damage can be done with only a small amount of bomb-making materials.
 
"They are used more commonly all the time, and it's just a matter of 'when' as opposed to 'if.' So (I'd) rather be prepared than have to catch up," Mike Dougherty with American K-9 Interdiction told CBN News.

"And that's what we're trying to do is keep people on the forefront of what's going on," he said.
 
American K-9 primarily trains dogs to detect bombs, but in this case, they're teaming up with Tripwire Operations Group to teach people -- specifically first responders, law enforcement and bomb squads -- to be on the lookout for homemade explosives.
 
"I hope all of our students, when they go back to their respective jurisdictions, that we have enabled them to be able to identify homemade explosive formulations," Tripwire's Ryan Morris said.

"If they were to go serve a search warrant or stop a car, and it's full of all these precursor chemicals, that they're able to put the two and two together and say, 'These people are posing a threat of some kind,'" he said.

Oklahoma City Bombing

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, between 1998 and 2008, approximately 4,200 incidents involved the possession, manufacture, and use of homemade explosives for experimentation and criminal purposes.

The ATF reported five were terrorist bombings and the rest involved people experimenting and motivated by curiosity.
 
In 1995, the Oklahoma City bombers crafted a 5,000-pound bomb on American soil -- a bomb that destroyed one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It created a 30-foot wide, 8-foot deep crater and took the lives of 168 people.
 
That's why experts say it's urgent for public servants and those they serve to take the issue of homemade explosives seriously, to be educated on what to look for, and to call authorities immediately if they suspect a bomb of any size is being made, or worse, on the verge of detonating.

"We want to be ahead of the curve to protect our neighbors and those that are in our communities around us," Morris said.

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.