Snack evacuation: A wing of Chico High School was evacuated last week when school administrators found what they worried was an “improvised explosive device” in a boys’ restroom on campus. Chico police responded immediately to secure the scene, where bomb technicians from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office donned protective gear in order to check out the device. Reporters rushed to the school and began questioning officers, while photographers snapped away at the restroom door.
Curious students looked on from the behind the safety of the yellow tape.
“Is that the boys’ restroom?” asked one naïve reporter. “Yeah,” answered a cop. “Girls don’t do that kind of stuff.”
The device turned out to be a Pringles-type can wrapped in electrical tape, containing a marijuana pipe and some other smoking paraphernalia.
County bomb expert Kirk Trostele said the school did the right thing in calling to have the device checked out. “You never know,” he said. “It could have been a bomb.”
Incidentally, bomb calls have been numerous so far this year, with technicians responding to as many as 10 in just two months.
Big boom settlement: A number of Butte County agencies will be reimbursed for their efforts in the Feb. 2, 2003, tanker-truck explosion that scorched two businesses on the Midway and sent driver James Gowen sprinting into nearby orchards. Evacuated residents, asked to leave their homes while the tanker burned for the next 24 hours, may also collect from the Bakersfield-based Lone Star Trucking.
The agencies will split $83,000, ranging from Butte County Public Works ($22,013.19) to the Chico Police Department ($600). Residents evacuated from their homes have the option of being reimbursed for meals, housing, phone calls, transportation and such, based on saved receipts. Those who lost their proofs of purchase can still claim a one-time per diem of $40 for expenses plus $60 per day for replacement housing. The Butte County District Attorney’s Office has sent letters to those affected by the blast.
Zapped! Having just purchased a small number of new TASER stun guns, Chico police are increasingly putting them to use in the streets. On Monday, officers took down two suspects with their yellow zappers, including a man suspected of robbing the Bank of America on Broadway. That suspect, ID’d as Edward Welch, 35, reportedly was spotted on a bus bench after the robbery and fled when police approached. Police said he tried to carjack a vehicle and brandished a knife at arresting officers, so they gave him a 50,000-volt request to submit. He did.
In an unrelated TASing, police took down an uncooperative man accused of assaulting two people in a Chico alley. That suspect, who had been previously armed with a knife but was apparently unarmed when found, was apprehended in a Cleveland Street residence.
In announcing the weapons’ purchase last month, Police Chief Bruce Hagerty said the devices would dramatically decrease both officer and suspect injuries and he hoped to get one for every beat-covering cop.