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Man Believed Trying to Plant Car Bomb Killed When Device Explodes

February 21, 1987|DAVID REYES | Times Staff Writer

A man who authorities suspect was trying to put a bomb in a car outside a Laguna Hills office building was killed Friday morning when the device exploded.

The blast destroyed the vehicle and propelled metal and glass fragments and body parts for hundreds of yards, an Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

The apparent target was retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Hal W. Vincent, 59, of El Toro, a veteran of 242 combat flights in the Vietnam War.

Vincent had driven to the South Pointe II industrial park, parked the car and was in his office at the time of the 8:10 a.m. explosion. The registered owner of the vehicle is Vincent's mother.

Workers Evacuated

Afterward, dozens of workers were evacuated from nearby offices as deputies, concerned that other bombs might be present, searched the area. No other bombs were found.

Vincent is part owner of Double "O" Enterprises, which sells National Football League accessories to the Marine Corps, said sheriff's spokesman Capt. Douglas Storm.

Storm said the dead man, whom he would not identify, had recently been involved in civil litigation with Vincent concerning a piece of property in Medford, Ore.

As of late Friday, deputies had not determined how the man obtained the explosives, what type they were or whether other people were involved in the incident, Storm said.

Vincent, reached Friday at his El Toro town house, refused to talk about the matter.

He retired in 1981 after 28 years in the Marine Corps, where he had become the first Marine aviator to fly at twice the speed of sound.

Deputies refused to say whether there are any links between Friday's explosion and other recent pipe-bomb incidents in Orange County.

The most recent incident was Monday. No one was hurt but a car was damaged when a pipe bomb exploded in the driveway of a south county home at about 1:25 a.m.

Office Space

Friday's incident resulted in the destruction of a yellow, 1968, two-door Dodge Dart. Driven to work by Vincent, the car was parked outside a two-story office building in the 23000 block of Peralta Drive. The building leases office space to more than 40 commercial tenants.

The blast "just mushroomed the car's whole rooftop," California Highway Patrol Officer George Luce said.

Arnette Bargabus, one of the evacuees from the South Pointe II building, said she first thought the blast was from a passing jet aircraft.

"It was just like a sonic boom. But my boss, who's from Brooklyn, said, 'No.' He said he's heard that sound before and knew it was a car bomb."

Bargabus and others continued working inside the building until 10:20 a.m.

"They told us to leave the building because they were checking the cars in the parking lot and were going to go in the building with dogs sniffing for bombs. You think they could have told us earlier," she said.

Times staff writers Bob Schwartz and Steve Emmons contributed to this article.

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