Flashlight bomb scare in Phoenix neighborhood

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Gibby Parra

Posted on June 4, 2012 at 6:27 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 4 at 8:39 AM

Map: 15th Street and Thomas Road

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PHOENIX -- Everything is clear now, but the discovery of yet another potential flashlight bomb put a neighborhood on high alert early Monday morning.

The bomb squad was called to the neighborhood along 15th Street south of Thomas Road at about 6 a.m.

Aerial video from the scene showed the flashlight lying in the street about a foot or so from the curb. The flashlight appeared to be a yellow, plastic 6-volt handheld model, similar to the three that somebody turned into bombs last month.

Video also showed what appeared to be a message -- "END DIP" -- spray-painted on the sidewalk, including an arrow that pointed right at the flashlight. It's not clear if the message is connected to the flashlight, but a homeowner in the area told 3TV's Gibby Parra that the spray paint was fresh.

The bomb squad checked out the flashlight and it turned out to be harmless, containing nothing more than the light bulb and the battery. 

There have been at least two similar scares connected to found flashlights in recent days, including an incident in which a woman found a suspicious flashlight in the back seat of her car. When it comes to abandoned flashlights turning up in unusual locations, people are on edge, and with good reason.

Five people have been injured in three separate flashlight-bomb incidents.

The first two happened on opposite sides of Glendale on May 13 and 14. The third happened at a Salvation Army distribution center in Phoenix on May 24.

Valley residents have been leery of such flashlights ever since. There have been several incidents of suspicious flashlights that turned out to be nothing, but police say you can't be too careful and are urging people to err on the side of caution.

"You can't tell from the outside which are fake, which are real, which is a real flashlight, which is something that has been altered to hurt or damage people," Lt. Chris Moore of the Phoenix Police Department said Wednesday night after a woman found a flashlight in the back seat of her car.

At this point, investigators have no idea who is behind the explosions.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for three recent incidents involving flashlight bombs.

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