State

Porta-potties targeted with IEDs; commode explodes

Portable toilets are used at events, sporting competitions and on construction sites. Multiple portable toilets at a Kentucky construction site have been targeted.
Portable toilets are used at events, sporting competitions and on construction sites. Multiple portable toilets at a Kentucky construction site have been targeted. ttompkins@bradenton.com

Daviess County Sheriff’s Department deputies and the Owensboro Police Department’s hazardous device unit were called to a home under construction in west Daviess County on Thursday after a crew found an explosive device that had been stuffed in a portable toilet.

The hazardous-device team destroy the device, but Maj. Bill Thompson, head of the sheriff’s department’s detective unit, said Thursday’s event is the second time someone tried to explode a commode at the site.

Detectives, Owensboro police bomb squad members and Kentucky state troopers were called to the 7000 block of Horrell Road shortly after noon. The portable toilet was set up near the driveway, Thompson said.

The company that supplies portable toilets evacuated it when someone noticed something unusual that had been sucked up by the hose.

“They turned the machine off and it fell out,” Thompson said. “It was a glass bottle wrapped in duct tape. It had a wick coming from it, and some material inside it.”

Whoever put the device there had tried to detonate it, Thompson said.

“According to the bomb squad, (the person) lit it and threw it in there, and the moisture from the porta john put it out,” he said.

Hazardous device unit members were able to disable the device with a low-impact explosive. Thompson said the portable toilet company told investigators they previously had one of their units heavily damaged by an explosive on the same site.

“About three weeks ago, the same company went out to clean and noticed one had detonated in a porta john. “We were not notified” of that first incident, Thompson said. “This is the first report we’ve had.”

Thompson said material from the device was collected as evidence, and sheriff’s deputies will increase patrols in the area.

“We are leaning toward (the incidents being) a pre-Halloween prank,” Thompson said. “The homeowner and the home builder will both put up cameras at the scene.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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