Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bomb Factory on Grizzly Peak in Berkeley a Teachable Moment, Too?

Two weekends ago, the Berkeley police arrested a man at 976 Grizzly Peak Blvd. who had the house set up with bomb making materials. The man, Emoru Oboke Obbanya, was subsequently released on $121,500 bail. So, far, there has been no further news about this case and we are wondering what the bombs were for. (Yes, this is just a few blocks from the Berkeley professor's house targeted by Code Pink earlier this summer, but ...)

In the mean time, I post the story to contribute to the current teachable moment in the dialogue about race and the police that has been requested. In this example, a man living in an expensive house in a university community also refused to identify himself when the police arrived at the house in response to a 911 call. This man also became verbally abusive to the officer. In this case he was in fact covering up illegal activity in the house.

Police Find Bomb-Making Materials In Berkeley Home
CBS 5 CrimeWatch

A Berkeley man has been arrested on explosives and weapons charges after police officers who responded to a 911 "hang-up" call in a quiet neighborhood in the Berkeley hills found chemicals and other items that could be used to manufacture explosives.

Berkeley police Lt. Andrew Greenwood said patrol officers responded to a house in the 900 block of Grizzly Peak Boulevard, near Forest Lane, around 12:30 p.m. Saturday after someone in the house dialed 911 and then hung up.

Greenwood said officers attempted to contact anyone inside the residence and could hear movement inside the house but no one responded when they knocked on the door.

He said after a while a man emerged from the house but then quickly closed the door behind him.

Greenwood said the officers became increasingly concerned about the welfare of anyone inside the house because the man "appeared to be extremely nervous, angry, agitated and confrontational."

The man repeatedly cursed the officers and for a period of time refused to provide any evidence that he in fact lived in the residence, according to Greenwood.

He allegedly refused to cooperate with officers' efforts to insure no one inside the residence was injured, in distress, or in need of aid, Greenwood said.

The man, who later was identified as 27-year-old Emoru Oboke Obbanya, was then arrested for a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer in the course of their duties, according to Greenwood.

The officers then went inside the house to make sure no one inside was injured or in need of aid in light of Obbanya's unusual and suspicious behavior, Greenwood said.

Although officers didn't find anyone who needed assistance, they observed a number of indications of possible criminal violations during the check of the home, he said.

Officers next obtained a search warrant authorizing a search of the house for weapons and located chemicals and other items which could be used in the manufacture of explosives and a quantity of explosives, Greenwood said.

Officers evacuated the house and adjoining homes and the Police Department's bomb squad was called in to safely conduct the search and safely seize illegal materials, he said.

The Berkeley Fire Department's hazardous materials team, the University of California at Berkeley Police Department's bomb squad and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also called to assist in the operation and the safe removal of materials.

The UC Berkeley Police Department's blast transport vessel was used to remove a number of volatile items and the items subsequently were rendered safe, Greenwood said. The incident didn't conclude until Sunday night, he said.

In addition to the misdemeanor charge of obstructing a peace officer, Obbanya is in custody in lieu of $121,500 bail on felony charges of possession of an illegal firearm, prohibited possession of a firearm, possession of a destructive device, possession of material with the intent to make an explosive or destructive device and prohibited possession of ammunition.

Greenwood said Obbanya is expected to be charged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office Tuesday morning and arraigned that afternoon.

Greenwood said Obbanya does in fact live at the house on Grizzly Peak Boulevard but it's unclear if he's the owner.

He said there may have been one other person at the house when police arrived on Saturday afternoon but that person wasn't injured and isn't believed to be connected to any wrongdoing at the house.

from here

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