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2 Held in Explosion Near Laguna Beach City Hall

January 18, 1986|STEVE EMMONS | Times Staff Writer

A stick of dynamite exploded beside City Hall in Laguna Beach early Friday, breaking 24 windows but causing no further damage and no injuries, and police later arrested two transients as suspects, authorities said.

Police Lt. Jim White said one of the suspects, whom he described as "two of the city's local street people," told investigators he exploded the bomb because "he was tired of being harassed by police."

The dynamite was placed in a three-foot-wide landscaped space between two buildings--neither of them the Police Department--and exploded a few minutes before 6 a.m., when no one was in either building, police said. "If it had been in a closed area, there would have been more damage," White said.

Damage was confined to windows in the offices of the city manager, city clerk and Recreation Department, said Police Chief Neil Purcell. He added that police had received no phone calls about the blast beforehand or afterward and that no note or graffiti had been found at the scene.

According to Purcell, the dynamite appeared to have been detonated by a four- to six-foot length of fuse that burns one foot every 45 seconds.

2 Arrested

About eight hours after the explosion, investigators arrested two men at the city's main beach on suspicion of setting off the bomb. Police identified them as Donald Juan Wheeler, 23, and James Louis Durand, 27. Both gave the address of the same Laguna Beach shelter, police said.

White said it was Wheeler who told his investigators that he set off the bomb to "take a stand against police." Durand has refused to talk to investigators, White said.

Police were led to the suspects "after contact with other local street people," officers said.

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