UPDATE, JUNE 29, 10:58 A.M.: Sheriff's investigators have made two more arrests in what were first described as two separate “acid bomb” attacks in Laguna Hills and Mission Viejo. Deputies now claim there were six South County bombings last Thursday night, but the homemade devices relied not on acid but dry-ice. Four teens are believed to have learned how to make the bombs via the Internet.
They include Robert Jacob Browne, 19, of Trabuco Canyon, and former Mission Viejo High School football star Mitchell Gary Melugin, 18.
The pair was originally charged with felony possession of an explosive device with the intent to terrify or injure, but it was later knocked down to misdemeanor throwing a substance at a vehicle.
Likewise, bail for Melugin and Browne, who both pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanors at arraignment Tuesday, had their bails reduced from $1 million to $15,000 and $25,000 respectively. Melugin paid his bond and is now out of custody. It's unclear why Browne's bail is higher or whether he remains locked up.
Two other teens have also been arrested, but the sheriff's department has not identified them because they are under 18.
Despite the less-serious charges, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino essentially told KABC's Eyewitness News not to mess with dry-ice bombs lest you put your eye out.
“You have exploding particles of plastic and dry ice–we should take
this as a warning to anybody else,” Amormino reportedly said. “It's not a prank. It's a very
dangerous thing to do.”
UPDATE, JUNE 27, 4:20 P.M.: Two young men are being held in lieu of $1 million bail each for last Thursday night's “acid bomb” attacks in Laguna Hills and Mission Viejo.
One suspect was voted one of the best high school football players in Orange County last year and had signed on to play this coming season at North Arizona University.
He's 18-year-old Mitch Melugin, a 2011 Mission Viejo High School graduate who played
tight end and defensive end for the Diablos. The Orange County Register included Melugin among “O.C.'s Hot 100” in 2010, a list of the county's top high school players.
Melugin allegedly drove the dark-colored SUV from which acid bombs–chemicals poured in a plastic water bottle that explodes on impact–were tossed on pedestrians just after 11 p.m. Thursday in Laguna Hills and about 20 minutes later into a car in Mission Viejo.
No one was hospitalized, but the car's driver experienced ringing in his ears after picking up the bottle as it exploded.
The driver got the license plate that led to the arrest of Melugin. Robert Jacob Brown, 19, later turned himself in. Both are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of possession of an explosive device with the intent to terrify or injure.
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 24, 11:24 A.M.: Some people were walking near the intersection
of Stockport Street and Paseo de Valencia in Laguna Hills just after 11 Thursday night when a dark-colored SUV approached and an "acid bomb” was tossed at the pedestrians, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies explained an acid bomb is a homemade device made with chemicals poured into a plastic water bottle. It makes a loud blast when tossed.
No pedestrians were injured, but about 20 minutes into investigating the case deputies received a call about another acid bomb being tossed from a dark-colored SUV into a car.
This time, the victim got a license plate number.
A 26-year-old man was driving along Alicia Way near the 5 freeway in Mission Viejo when the bomb detonated, causing a loud blast that left ringing in his ears.
He declined treatment but did assist deputies with the lead that took them to an unidentified 18-year-old man who was jailed on suspicion of detonating a destructive device.
The hunt is still on for three other people believed to have been in the SUV at the time of the acid bombings.