PD: Explosives found at Tempe home, student arrested


by Mike Gertzman

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 9:11 PM

Updated Monday, May 13 at 11:21 AM

Map: Explosives found

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Map: Tempe Fire Station #3

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Map: Marcos de Niza High School

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Police have arrested a student from Marcos de Niza High School and are searching a home for explosives as part of an investigation that began after a maid brought a suspicious device to a fire station.

The device turned out to be an improvised explosive device or IED, according to a news release from Sgt. Mike Pooley with the Tempe Police Dept.

"There was fuse that was coming out from the device which would be how you light it and it would cause the fuse to go in there and explode," Pooley said. "The bomb was ready to go. It was active. All it needed was the trigger."

The person who brought the device to Tempe Fire Station #3 was working and cleaning at a residence in the 1600 block of East Candlestick Road, near McClintock Drive and Baseline Road.

When firefighters saw the device they immediately notified the Tempe Police Dept. which dispatched its Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD unit.

The EOD unit responded to the fire station and determined the device was a legitimate IED. The IED was disabled.

The concerned citizen also told authorities there were more materials at the residence where she was cleaning. She had also taken photos of the materials which showed items used for making IEDs.

Police EOD detectives responded to the residence and began an active search.

Joshua Prater, an 18-year-old senior at Marcos de Niza High School, was placed under arrest for misconduct involving weapons, possessing a prohibited weapon and IED.

Prater's friends and neighbors who gathered outside his Tempe home were stunned by the accusations.

"I was just with him today, " Princeton Jackson told 3TV. "I've never seen any of that stuff in his house.  I know he'd go out to the dunes and shoot at bottles, but kids do that."

"I've known him since he came home from the hospital," neighbor Francine Moore added. "His mother always said what a good student he is, so this is really surprising."

While investigators do not think Marcos de Niza was the target, they did a precautionary sweep of the campus before students arrived Wednesday morning. Nothing was found, but police have stepped up patrols around the school.

Prater's friends said the senior was a straight "A" student and had planned to attend the University of Arizona in the fall.



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