Two arrested in California bombings
Police negotiate with 3rd suspect;
February 3, 1997
bombings said to be aimed at courts
Web posted at: 1:33 p.m. EST (1833 GMT)
VALLEJO, California (CNN) -- Two men have been arrested and police were negotiating for the surrender of a third in
connection with a series of bombings that
investigators said were aimed at disrupting the local court
Police also recovered 500 pounds of stolen dynamite in a raid
Sunday on a house in a residential Vallejo neighborhood and
said they found enough dynamite for a "catastrophic"
explosion in a parked car at a Vallejo apartment complex.
Investigators arrested Francis Ernestberg, 40, in the
pre-dawn hours Sunday at a house in Vallejo. An FBI special
operations group picked up Oston Osotonu, 24, at a motel 13 hours later.
Vallejo police were negotiating with an intermediary for the
surrender of Kevin Lee Robinson, the third suspect. The bombs
were apparently aimed at stopping Robinson's pending hearings
on drug charges, according to Mike Morrisey, an official with
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
"We think that was probably a diversion designed to throw the
investigation off track and to take us away from looking at
only a criminal justice-type operation," said Vallejo Police
Chief Robert Nichelini said.
All three suspects face conspiracy and explosives charges,
and could face 160 years in prison if convicted in connection
with the bombings in Vallejo, about 37 miles northeast of San
The bomb investigation began January 25 when a knapsack
containing 30 sticks of dynamite was found outside the
Vallejo library. That bomb did not explode, but a blast went
off the following day at a row of automatic teller machines.
Another explosion blew out part of a wall at the Solano
County Courthouse on January 30. No one was injured in either
explosion. Investigators traced the unexploded dynamite to
one of the suspects, leading to the discovery Sunday of 60
sticks of dynamite in a parked car.
"The explosives were wired up and it was our understanding
that it was also to be used in a further attempt to subvert
the justice system in Vallejo," said Paul Snabel, a federal
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agent.
A car bomb of that size in a populated area "could have been
catastrophic," Snabel said.
Police evacuated a 20-block area of Vallejo when they
discovered the larger cache of dynamite, and a semi-automatic
rifle, in the garage of one of the suspect's relatives.
The arrest and seizure of explosives should stop the
bombings, Chief Nichelini said, but he could not say for
certain if all of the dynamite allegedly possessed by the
suspects was recovered by police.
"I think the potential for this group of people engaging in
any future planned bombings is extremely remote, but we are
very concerned that there would be any kind of explosives out
there that could either self-detonate and would be
inadvertently detonated by someone else or stolen by a new
group," Nichelini said.
Related site: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this
service is provided to you.