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Apparent 'pipe bomb' linked to Palo Alto juvenile

Original post made on Jan 27, 2012

The suspicious object that resembled a pipe bomb and prompted Palo Alto police to shut down a section of Middlefield Road in August was accidentally dropped on the road by a juvenile who was using it as a game prop earlier that day, police said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, January 27, 2012, 9:24 AM

Comments (8)

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Posted by rem
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

rem is a registered user.

Well, Well, common sense by all the adults concerned. Job well done..

I have a idea the juvenile will now have respect for adults and police.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

A learning lesson for us all.

Thankfully a happy outcome.

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Posted by white boy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

If it was a poor minority kid, they would thrown the book at him. Rich kids don't even get a slap on the wrist.

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Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2012 at 11:28 am

This is a very curious story. On the one hand, it’s good to know that the police were able to find the person who constructed this device. On the other hand, it opens a lot of questions. Presumably there was identifying information in the cell phone, which was used to locate the original purchaser of the cell phone, who might well have been the youth identified by the joint PA/FBI effort. But if so, why did it take so long to bring an end to this matter? If the cell phone was not the key, then tracking the youth down obvious involved a lot of “old fashioned police work”.

What’s troubling, though, is why was this case pursued at all? The article does not say whether the County bomb squad identified it as “not a bomb” before they exploded it. Certainly, there would have been no chemical residue left, or any evidence of chemicals that might be exploded, after the “device” was destroy by the Bomb Squad. So, clearly this “device” was not a danger to anyone. Closing down the street to evacuate the “device” at the time, and having the County bomb squad take control of it, makes sense. But does it make sense to investigate every suspicious object that is found within the city limits?

Thinking back to the Children’s Theater debacle, when it appears that a single police officer, spending months trying to find “theft and fraud” at the Children’s Theater, demonstrated that there was virtually no effective management in the Police Chain-of-Command at the time. Even after the County DA indicated that it would not accept a referral of this matter, should the PA Police try to hand it off, the officer persisted.

How many hours, and at what cost, did it PA police expend chasing down the youth whose forgetfulness caused him to become the object of a police/Federal investigation? Given that police officers often take home over $150K a year, even short investigations amount up to significant sums. (And this investigation also included Federal costs.)

And what is even more disturbing is that the youth--whose story seems plausible up to the point where he claimed he was “too scared” to call the police and explain to them what the “device” was—failed to call the police and help them close down this investigation.

What has become of common sense, honesty, and integrity in our society, and our town—when a teen ager is afraid to admit a simple mistake. Sure, making a pipe bomb look-a-like is not the same thing as making a bow and arrow, but still, this youth had to know that the police have better things to do that chase after “game props”.

We spend about $160M a year on the public school system in Palo Alto. And this kind of stupidity is what we get in return? Hopefully this young man has learned something about how there are consequences to one’s actions. But we, as a society, need to recognize that our public schools are not teaching the core values that made America great. All of us have obligations to do our part to maintain “law and order”. This young man’s failure to contact the police do not reflect well on him, his parents, and his schooling.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2012 at 1:01 pm


I get your point. It is a similar story to the Gunn student a couple of years ago that got the school into lockdown because he carried an air gun rifle from his car to his trunk.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Before you blame the public schools for this (and all the ills in our community) why don't you make sure he isn't a private school student?

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Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2012 at 6:58 pm

> why don't you make sure he isn't a private school student?

No can do. The police are not going to identify this young man.

However, about 15% of the young people in Palo Alto are enrolled in private schools, making it about an 84% chance this youth is enrolled in a public school. Either way, the point about his "schooling" still stands.

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Posted by Dawnie
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 29, 2012 at 8:48 am

Come on people ... he/she is just a kid ... didnt you all make a mistake when u were younger ??? He probably plays video games and one of the new things is to go out and play in real life what you would on the video games ... be happy that they are outside running around playing enjoying time with friends and not robbing, doing/selling drugs etc .. Thats the thing with Palo Alto over thinking everything ... yea it wasted money ... but hell what are the occupy people doing ??? Give the kid a break ...

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