VEAZIE, Maine — Three local men face felony charges after police found them making bombs Thursday night by mixing a common household cleaner and aluminum foil in empty soda bottles.
After gas from the resulting chemical reaction builds up, the bottles explode, Veazie police Sgt. Paul Haslam said Friday.
Haslam said the three men were completely caught off guard by authorities’ reaction to their ongoing experiments with homemade soda bottle bombs.
“They didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong,” he said.
“Basically, they were making an explosive device. It’s against the law to be making chemical explosives,” he said.
The fumes from what are known as acid bombs sickened two investigating Veazie police officers, who were taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for treatment after they began experiencing breathing problems, said Haslam, who was one of those officers. The other was Veazie police Officer Brian Sirois.
Emergency room staff “cleared us to return to duty,” Haslam said Friday, though he said medical personnel said the two could expect the coughing and choking they experienced after being exposed to the fumes to continue for a few more days.
Summoned on charges of reckless conduct and criminal use of explosives, a Class C felony, were: Cameron Masters, 22, of Bangor; Matthew Sawyer, 22, also of Bangor; and Justin Turcotte, 21, of Orono, Haslam said. All three declined medical treatment, he said.
According to Haslam, Veazie police had been fielding complaints about shots being fired in town for a couple of weeks when Sirois was called to Woodside Lane about 10:30 p.m. Thursday for another report. When Haslam arrived at the police station a few minutes later, he received another call about shots being fired and went to the area to provide backup.
After Haslam arrived, both officers heard what sounded like another shot, which they traced to a residence at 12 Mountainview Drive. There, Haslam said, they found three men in a driveway. Concerned they might be armed, the officers took them to the ground at gunpoint, he said.
Rather than finding guns, however, the police officers found the remnants of the trio’s amateur bomb-making operation.
Haslam said the homemade explosives are dangerous not only because they could burn, blind or otherwise injure people, but because they have no fuse or timer, which makes them unpredictable.