Inept bomber targets cars

There’s a mad but incompetent bomber on the loose.

In an incident whose type is becoming familiar to local police and the FBI, somebody planted two explosive devices underneath a pair of SUVs at Wittmeier Auto Center over the weekend.

Owner Ed Wittmeier said the devices, plastic gallon jugs filled with what appeared to be gasoline, were discovered by an employee just before the dealership opened Sunday, May 4. One device was left under each car, and it appeared there were fuses attached that had been partially lit. The SUVs, Ford Escapes, were located about two rows into the lot and had fuel in their tanks.

The incendiary devices were similar to two firebombs left at the Mangrove Avenue McDonald’s last month, which were accompanied by animal-rights graffiti and a letter, supposedly from the activist group Animal Liberation Front. No claims of responsibility or political motive were found at the Wittmeier scene. Law enforcement officials refused to divulge if any other evidence was gathered, but Wittmeier confirmed that police were given a surveillance tape recorded the night the devices were left.

FBI Special Agent Nick Rossi said the mere fact that the devices were similar to the ones found at McDonald’s does not automatically link the two crimes.

“There are some similarities, but there are important differences as well,” Rossi said. “The fact that these devices are similar may not necessarily suggest a connection.”

Rossi said the FBI was “becoming fairly involved” in the investigation and had more than one agent working the case.

Chico police did not to return calls for comment by press time.

Wittmeier Auto Center was targeted recently by vandals who stole the hood emblems from 27 new cars, mostly Hondas. Courtesy Auto Center was apparently hit the same night.