Hand and motive missing in bomb case

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NORTHFIELD >> One man had his hand blown off and another suffered a serious hand injury when a homemade pipe bomb exploded Wednesday night in Northfield, according to Vermont State Police.

Authorities found a second, undetonated explosive device at the apartment on the corner of North Street and Maple Avenue during their initial sweep, and rendered it safe.

Police did not identify any suspects or victims, but Washington County State's Attorney Scott Williams named Mark McCloud, a Northfield resident, as being seriously injured in the explosion. Four people in total were hurt, two mildly injured.

Police said they were trying to determine what happened and any motive. They said there is no danger to the public.

The state police bomb squad responded to the scene shortly after 8:20 p.m., along with the Northfield police and fire departments. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating.

Early Thursday, investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene, and members of the VSP Bomb Squad walked in and out of the middle apartment unit, collecting evidence in plastic see-through bags.

Linda Brennan, who lives a few yards away from the area where authorities taped off the scene, said she heard a big boom at around 8:15 p.m., and that she called the Northfield police to report it.

She said she was watching television, and the loud boom jolted her off the couch.

Brennan said the tenant in the apartment where authorities were investigating was new to the neighborhood. She said she often heard fighting from the apartment, and that cars came and left the dwelling often, and at odd hours.

She said she never saw the tenant up close.

"If he was in a police lineup, I'd never recognize him," she said.

Pat Stuart, 75, was making cookies for a church dinner when she heard a loud bang from the house.

"We live in Norwich, we are used to things that go 'bang', but not that close," Stuart said. "It was very loud and very close."

Stuart checked outside their house with her husband, Floyd, and they didn't see any people, or smoke.

"Our neighbor said that right after the explosion someone yelled 'Let's get out of here' and a car took off," Floyd said.

Authorities evacuated residents in surrounding homes for a short time before the scene was deemed safe, police said.

Joseph Hebert, 85, who lives across the street from crime scene, said firefighters asked him to evacuate around 11 p.m., but that he refused.

"I says 'I'm not going anywhere, I'm going back to bed," Hebert said. "I says 'you guys can fool around all you want.'"

"The doors are locked," Hebert added. "If they force their way in, I'm well armed, I can take care of them."

Neighbors seemed a bit shaken from the explosion, but they seemed to think it was a fluke, and most likely, an accident.

"This is a good neighborhood, we watch out for one another, this is kind of an anomaly," Floyd said. "I'm not at all disturbed or worried."

Jasper Craven is VTDigger's political reporter. He can be contacted at jcraven@vtdigger.org. Follow Jasper on Twitter @jasper_craven.


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