UPDATED: Tips still sought in case of small explosives found on Waseca school grounds - Waseca MN: News

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UPDATED: Tips still sought in case of small explosives found on Waseca school grounds

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 6:00 pm | Updated: 4:15 pm, Wed Apr 2, 2014.

UPDATED: TUESDAY 6:30 P.M.

Investigators say they've gotten little new information about the discovery last week of small explosives found on a Hartley Elementary playground.

Police announced Friday in a press release they were looking for help finding whomever left the devices, described as 'very small' and homemade.

Two devices were found March 24. They were revealed, police believe, by the melted snow and last week's rains.

One had been previously detonated; the other failed to ignite, according to a Police Department press release. A toy that appeared to be damaged by a similar device was found Friday.

Because of the ongoing investigation, descriptions of the devices were not initially disclosed. But on Saturday, after what Capt. Kris Markeson described as the increased concern by the public, police released information about the makeup of the devices, saying that they were comprised of small compressed air cartridges similar to those used in a BB or pellet gun.

The devices, though small enough to fit in the palm of an adult's hand, "they could have been very powerful" if ignited, said Markeson. They would have needed to be lit by an open flame in order to detonate, he said.

Police on Saturday stressed that there is no current danger to Hartley students and said they should feel safe returning to school Monday. School officials reportedly met with Hartley parents Monday to discuss concerns about the incident.

Waseca Schools Superintendent Tom Lee did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

"Although it is disturbing that one of the devices was placed inside a child’s toy, we currently have no indication there was intent to leave the toy on the playground, undetonated, in order to injure a child," Markeson said the release.

Anyone with information about these items on the Hartley Elementary School playground is asked to call the department at 507-835-9720 and ask to speak to an on-duty officer.

*  *  *  * 

UPDATED: March 29, 12:45 p.m.

Police say it is safe for students to return to Waseca's Hartley Elementary, where two homemade explosive devices were found on the school's playground earlier this week. 

Police announced yesterday in a press release they were looking for help finding whomever left the devices, described as 'very small' and homemade. 

The devices were found March 24. Two had been previously detonated; the other failed to ignite, according to a Police Department press release. A stuffed animal that appeared to be damaged by a similar device was found Friday. 

In the wake of several phone calls from concerned parents and members of the public, the Police Department released a second statement about the explosive devices earlier today, stressing that there is no current danger to students and that they should feel safe returning to school Monday: 

"The Waseca Police Department has not received any additional information or leads concerning the Press Release from yesterday in which two very small homemade devices and a damage stuffed toy containing a similar detonated device were located this week on the south area of the playground at Hartley School.

However, the Waseca Police Department has received some phone calls from concerned parents. Based upon these inquiries, the WPD would like to stress the following previously released information:

1. The devices appeared old and two of them had previously been detonated and one had failed to ignite. These devices required an open flame to ignite.

2. Because of the condition of the devices, it is quite possible they were previously there for weeks or months. The melting snow and rain have contributed to locating them.

3. It is not known if they were intentionally placed in this area.

Because this is an ongoing investigation, descriptions of the devices were not previously disclosed. However, due to the increased concern by the public, we feel it is important to disclose that these were small compressed air cartridges similar to those used in a BB or pellet gun.

Additionally, we do not believe that student safety was compromised and it is safe for the students to return to school on Monday.

The Waseca Police Department will continue to seek information from the public concerning these devices. Anyone with information about these items on the Hartley Elementary School playground is asked to call the Waseca Police Department at 507-835-9720. Please ask to speak to an on-duty Officer." 

***

Police are looking for help in finding whomever may have left two explosive devices on a Waseca school playground.

The devices, described by officers as "very small homemade explosive devices," were found March 24 at Hartley Elementary's south playground. One had been detonated; the other failed to ignite, according to a Police Department press release.

On Friday, Hartley School staff again contacted police regarding a damaged stuffed toy found on the same playground.

"The same type of small homemade explosive, which had detonated, appeared to have been inside the toy. Like the first two, the explosive device appeared to be old and may have turned up as a result of melting snow and recent rain," said police.

While the devices were small enough to fit in the palm of an adult's hand, "they could have been very powerful," according to Capt. Kris Markeson.

No one was injured in either of these situations which Markeson believes are connected.

Markeson said officers scoured the school campus and found no other devices, but noted that there is still a good deal of snow on school grounds which could be concealing others.

Each of the devices found would have needed to be lit by an open flame in order to detonate, he said.

"Although it is disturbing that one of the devices was placed inside a child’s toy, we currently have no indication there was intent to leave the toy on the playground, undetonated, in order to injure a child," said the release.

Police are looking for the public's help in identifying the person(s) responsible for creating, placing and detonating these items.

Anyone with information about these items on the Hartley Elementary School playground is asked to call the department at 507-835-9720 and ask to speak to an on-duty officer.

Hartley Principal Ben O'Brien could not immediately be reached for comment.

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