By Rachel Rice
Bangor Daily News (Maine)
An attempted car bombing fizzled out Monday morning after an improvised bomb found in a local man's car caught fire, but didn't explode.
The incident landed a Caribou man in jail and left a Presque Isle man saying he would be injured or dead if not for the poor bomb-making skills involved. Investigators did not give a motive for the crime, but said both men had dated the same woman.
David Holmes, 19, of Caribou remained at Aroostook County Jail in Houlton on Tuesday after he was arrested and charged Monday afternoon with arson, a Class A felony, and aggravated reckless conduct, a Class B felony.
Adam Fantasia, 19, of Presque Isle said Tuesday that he was not injured after finding the bomb under the hood of his car, but that the situation could have ended quite differently.
Fantasia's car was parked less than 10 feet from an apartment building, where about nine people, including children, were living at the time of the incident, Tim Lowell, senior fire investigator with the State Fire Marshal's Office, said Tuesday.
"If it had gone off, it could have caused significant damage to the car, the building and-or the death of the occupants of both," Lowell said.
Fantasia said he had started his car early Monday morning and thought the engine sounded funny, so he opened the hood. Inside, he found what investigators are calling an improvised incendiary device that was wired into the car.
"I thought, 'What the hell is a Sunny D bottle doing here?' and the second I grabbed it, it burst into flames in my hands," Fantasia said.
Fantasia immediately dropped the container, which was filled with an ignitable liquid, and Lowell said that it burned there on the ground but did no other damage. Fantasia suffered no significant injuries. He said he called police about the bomb after recovering from the confusion of what he'd experienced and realized "that this was something that could have killed me."
Police received a call about the bomb at about 7 a.m. Monday and called in the fire marshal's office.
Lowell said that a joint investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Presque Isle Police Department singled out Holmes as a suspect. They then obtained a warrant to search his dormitory room at Northern Maine Community College and "found evidence in his room to support the crime."
Lowell said Holmes and Fantasia were acquaintances who had dated the same woman. He said the woman was not involved in the matter.
Holmes was arrested without incident in his dorm room at about 4 p.m. Monday.
His bail was set at $80,000 surety or $20,000 cash. Lowell said Holmes was not able to make bail. His court date is scheduled for Jan. 19, though he is expected to make his first appearance in District Court on Wednesday.
Lowell said the investigation is continuing, though no other arrests are expected. He said Inspector Greg Day of the fire marshal's office and Officer Jeff Mechalko and Detective Bill Scull of the Presque Isle police assisted him on the case.
Attempted car bomb fizzles out in Maine