The captain of a Navy ship anchored at Terminal Island escaped possible death or injury Friday when a pipe bomb rigged to his car failed to trigger as planned, police said.
Capt. Kenneth R. Barry, commanding officer of the amphibious helicopter landing ship Peleliu, discovered the live bomb shortly after 5 a.m. when he went to his car, parked in the secured garage of a 30-unit condominium on East 1st Street in Long Beach.
Barry called police, and about 50 residents were evacuated for three hours from the three-story luxury building while members of the Los Angeles County sheriff's bomb squad deactivated the bomb, then took it to nearby Junipero Beach, where it was disassembled.
The bomb, described as an explosive-filled pipe about six inches long connected to a nine-volt battery, was designed to explode when a piece of paper shielding two electrical contacts was pulled away by a line attached to the driver's side door of the car.
Lt. Jim Reed of the Long Beach Police Department said Barry, who was preparing to go jogging, opened the car door and the line pulled away part of the paper, but not all of it, and the circuit was not completed.
The executive officer of the Peleliu said Barry was "unavailable" for comment Friday, and public information spokesman John Chadwell of the Commander Naval Surface Group in Long Beach said the Navy had no comment on a possible motive.
Chadwell did say, however, that he had been authorized to report that the Navy has no indications that the attempted bombing was a terrorist act or that it was Navy-related.
The incident is being investigated both by the Navy and Long Beach police, he said.
Security-conscious residents of the condominium where Barry lives said Friday that during the last two weeks a garage door opener had been stolen and a prowler had been spotted inside the garage. Also, in another incident involving Barry, the Navy captain reported finding three empty beer cans beside his car. One of the cans had been attached to a string tied to a windshield wiper.